Wake up and lounge in bed. Silently mull over the Witcher: Blood Origin series binged on Netflix late into the night before, trying to decide whether I like it or not.
Cannot make up my mind.
Twenty minutes later, sit up slowly. Stroll to the kitchen. Make myself coffee and breakfast – a slice of rye bread slathered with tablespoons of butter, peanut butter and jam. Minimal nutritional value, maximum taste value.
With each bite, savour the billowy softness of bread blended with heavenly sour-sweetness from jam, tinged with saltiness from the gloriously oily peanut butter. Wash it down with a sip of warm bittersweet coffee. Eyes on phone, fingers lazily swiping through an assortment of news and articles from legitimate and not-so-legitimate sites alike, both equally amusing.
A shriek penetrates the stillness in the air.
Then, a scream.
Eyes and fingers still on phone, proceed on to a game of Wordscape.
A minute later, the shrieking subsides, replaced by chatters.
Immerse myself in a few more games of Wordscape.
This morning routine is not too different from the one the day before. And the one over the past week. It is the time of the year that is the wedge between Christmas and New Year. Where nothing happens. Where the world outside just sort of, stops. Where no one expects anything from me (apart from kids who demand you to be the enforcer of justice).
And this year, I allow myself to just, be.
Do not feel like making lunch or dinner? No worries, we will do take-outs or pop over to mom’s, who always welcomes us with a feast and big embraces.
Not sure what to do tomorrow? No worries, we will decide in the morning after breakfast, depending on what feels right.
Feeling a little bored at 11am? No worries, slide out that delicious cold white from the fridge and put on the Summer Chill edition on Spotify.
Oh, what a wonderful time of the year.
It was not too long ago when during this same period I would line our days up with social engagements, find an endless list of things to do around our somewhat-new-house, get swept up in the madness of end-of-year sales, plan for things to do with the kids, make plans to host New Year celebrations, plan for trips away, fervently write up lists of achievements for the year past and resolutions for the incoming year in the name of self-improvement. We had so many things going on in our lives. Good, wonderful things. There were activities to do, people and places to see, things to buy. But it was never enough. One New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago, I broke down. Crouched over, tears flowing, nose sniffling, wine in one hand, tissue in the other. Profoundly discontented, but confused and unsure about the source of my unhappiness.
So, when Christmas/New Year rolls around again this year, I decide to do something different – that is, to fill my days with nothing, and savour a day at a time.
Traditionally the thought of not doing anything productive or looking for ways to improve things was deeply unsettling for me. I grew up a planner, a concept that was drilled into me as a child. But perhaps it is the age and experience of having gone through many years of unresolved resolutions, or fatigue from going through a semi-apocalyptic era of COVID, climate change and global economic and socio-political uncertainty, or it might just be a post-major-depression thing, it turns out to be just the thing that I need and crave.
To free myself of expectations – those that spring from everywhere and everyone (the 1,001 so-called self-improvement books and articles, news, advertisements, social media posts and images, Greta Thunberg’s steely gaze).
But most importantly, expectations of myself, from myself.
After forty Christmases and New Year days, I am learning to live again. And I realise that I can do it from within the walls of our own home and the confines of my own mind.
Plating up a feast of scrambled egg with mushrooms on toast for the family? Yes, because cooking and watching my kids eat makes my heart sing, not because I have to.
It is a delectable feeling.