We have a choice. We are here, in the brief, wild weeks after Thanksgiving and before Hanukkah and Christmas, and we get to decide how to survive this interlude. I’ve always known that we can categorize people as good and bad, ugly and beautiful, decaf and high-octane, hot-blooded and cold-hearted, but I realize, too, that folks can be fast or slow.
I’m not referring to mental ability or morals. I’m referring to how quickly people move. It’s remarkable that two individuals, members of the same species, can move at rates so different that they seem attuned to their own inner metronomes, set to different speeds.
I walked into a local food market recently, saw the lines, observed the stress etched on the faces of shoppers, noticed that there weren’t any carts left, listened briefly to the shrieking Christmas music, heard a 2-year-old screamer demanding licorice, and I bolted. I can bustle along when I need to; I’m organized and efficient as I go about my work. However, I short-circuit at a certain speed and have to step back. In the case of the market, I walked out, frazzled by the sensory overload.
A friend just came off a week of preparing not one but two Thanksgivings for the various branches of her family. This was after several weeks of feeding and housing refugees from the storm. Now she’s obsessing about her Christmas tree and when to decorate and what kind of meal to prepare for Christmas dinner. She has a look in her eyes like Claire Danes in “Homeland.” Not good.
Another pal has been spending most of her time in local toy stores. Basically she just goes home for a meal and a brief nap. She has 12 grandkids, and apparently they all need gifts for all eight nights of Hanukkah. Never mind the potato latke meal she’s planning for 32 people, with three frying pans, pounds of Yukon Golds and a crate of onions. A third friend has been cooking food for a soup kitchen, running to malls for her family gifts and trying to pack for herself, her three kids and her husband so they can visit the grandparents in California.
These women — and it is mostly women — are moving at superhuman speed through these days. Truly, I fear for their health and safety.