I am a creature of habit. I find comfort in routines. Children also crave routines and rituals. Every August, we would do the back-to-school shopping. New clothes, new sneakers, new backpack. September found us in the fabric store picking out a pattern and fabric for the all-important Halloween costume. Each day my progress was measured. Was it cut out yet? How much was sewn today? Was it ready to be hemmed? Because I always took it down to the wire. Every year it was the same thing. The night before the Costume Parade, I was tacking down the last facings, sewing on the last snaps. Yet somehow, on the all important day, the Fairy Princess fluttered out the door, the Starfleet Officer transported to the schoolbus, Catwoman purred her way to homeroom, Guinevere summoned her Paintball Warrior to her side.
Two weeks later was the all-important birthday party. Two weeks after that, Thanksgiving. And finally, Christmas with all of its attendant decorating and shopping. By January, I was always exhausted and ready for some “Me Time”. Seed catalogs had started to arrive during the last week of December as the holiday season was winding down. I hoarded them in anticipation of the long winter nights. While the wind was howling outside, I was curled up on the couch, planning, dreaming. In my mind, it was summer and my gardens were full of flowers. All of my favorites were there along with new blossoms that had begged to be tried. Everything was perfect. There wasn’t a weed in sight. Anything is possible in dreams.
My accustomed routine was disrupted, though, as the seed companies decided that they could sell more seeds if they sent more catalogs and sent them earlier and earlier. I tried mightily to resist the urge to “peek”. I always succumbed. Gingerbread houses went undecorated and Christmas cards weren’t mailed as I pored over the latest offerings. The January lull became just that, a lull until the first bulbs tentatively peeked out at the end of February.
My nest is empty now. I’m struggling to find new routines. I was granted a reprieve this year as fewer catalogs arrived “too early”. Perhaps because I have not yet formed new habits, I was able to resist their siren song and tossed them into a basket until the proper time. That time is now. The Christmas tree is at the curb awaiting pick-up. The decorations are back in their boxes in the basement. The house and yard are bare but the basket of catalogs is over-flowing. I am ready to begin planning and dreaming.