December 20, 2004
It was 11 degrees and windy this morning when I went out for the paper just before 7:00. Dark, too, because sunrise doesn’t come these days till nearly 7:30. The people at the end of the block leave their Christmas lights on all night — strings of tiny whites that wrap the porch railing and the bushes and climb through the bare branches of the tree in their front yard. I like looking at them, at the glow that greets me when I get to the end of the driveway and scoop up my paper.
I spent most of today with my beak under my wing, so to speak. Our parakeet, Paco (whom we’ve had for exactly a year and who is named for the boy in the Dragnet Christmas episode), did this for several days at the beginning of the month. He’d done a parakeet version of binge drinking. He likes to sit on the roof of his cage (we keep his wings clipped), and he took to hopping over to a small tabletop fountain on the counter and jabbing at the stream of water trickling down the rock wall. I think he ingested so much water it made him sick, and for two or three days he’d rouse himself when I uncovered him in the morning but within half an hour be perched in the back of the cage with his beak stuck under his wing, a stance he doesn’t assume even late at night.
Animals are sometimes smarter than humans. If they feel sick, they rest. They don’t endeavor to put the whole dining room back into its non-Christmas condition because if they don’t do it today it won’t get done until next Thanksgiving (like last year). They listen to their bodies.
So I listened to mine today. I had a good breakfast (poached egg, English muffin, orange juice), read a little, and then went back to bed before I started picking at the leftover party food. (Chances are good I’d eat more leftover red velvet cake than leftover vegetable wreath with low-fat salsa dip.) About 1:00, when the light is most glorious in the kitchen these days, I worked on notes for my Feast of Stephen letter, and then took another nap.
I know what I have is a form Post-Holiday Letdown Syndrome, a set of physical and mental responses recognized by mental health professionals. I’m not depressed, nor am I suffering from disappointment because my expectations for my party were not met. But I am letting go of the tension and even the anxiety that preparing for it entailed.
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