Want peace this holiday season? Spend them alone.
Of course, I’ll explain.
For the past few years, I’ve had pretty awful holidays. Daylight savings time would immediately drive me into a deep hibernation. I’d cancel plans with friends. I’d want to go to bed at 6 pm. I’d avoid answering my phone or e-mails, and you’d more than likely find me on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, watching TV in the dark and going at a pint of Haagen-Dazs like a shipwreck survivor with a first meal after nine days at sea.
This year has been markedly different. Although I procrastinated too long to hang Christmas decorations, I’ve otherwise enjoyed the season in an unexpected way that’s been hard to quantify. Sunset before 5 pm is still a drag, but my world doesn’t shut down at 5:01. I’ve met friends for dinner, done errands for my mom, seen movies and concerts, and generally braved the cold 90% more than usual. So what’s changed?
To be blunt, I was working for five years, and now I’m not.
There’s something freeing about unemployment, something more substantial than having time for coffee, a walk around the park, excessive blogging or endless harassment of your friends to publicize your blog (weren’t these the same people who urged me to start one?).
For me, being unemployed has meant celebrating the holidays on my own terms. Not schlepping into the city every day has been a major part. I didn’t realize until recently—after more than 15 years of working full time—just how much of the city seeps into everyday life, often without my knowing it. Particularly around the holidays. I worked near several hotels and Central Park, which meant I was constantly dodging tourist groups of four or more who either 1) walked abreast and not single file or 2) stood at stop lights both red and green, gawking, making those of us on the hustle either stop short to avoid barreling into them, or detour around them like a car around a pothole.