The dumbstruck expression on his face when nothing happens isn’t unlike the one I now have staring the holidays square in the face. Not only did this season sneak up on me, it blasted me with a broadside that would sink half the Navy.
That old saying that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time feels kind of obsolete as I have more than one elephant on my plate. The whole herd is sitting there with a couple hippos thrown in for good measure. Not only am I full, but I’m tired of elephant and I need to go on a diet. Those darn critters just seem to keep multiplying like rabbits.
November and December are traditionally busy times in the Southern household. This year it has been complicated by my wife and two oldest sons taking weekend jobs at the Texas Renaissance Festival. I’m glad they’re doing it but it just parades another elephant onto my plate as the burden of more household chores falls on the shoulders of our youngest son and me.
I don’t mind taking on the extra load at home, but with a full schedule some things have got to give. The same thing applies here at work. This edition of the paper was to be ready for press Saturday morning. It normally goes Tuesdays at 10 a.m. I had just a few days notification of this change due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
On top of that, this is the week we publish the Fort Bend/Katy Business Journal. Oh, did I mention we’ve recently had a change of personnel and procedures in our design department? We’ve got good people; they’re just not up to speed yet. Picking up some of that slack is just another elephant on my plate.
At home, my wife just celebrated her birthday. Our youngest son’s birthday is coming up, as is my father-in-law’s birthday, my parent’s anniversary and, oh yeah, my wedding anniversary. All of that comes before Christmas.
Please allow me to introduce you to more of the herd while we’re at it. My car is on its last legs (again) and needs more costly repairs than it’s worth. Our washing machine is acting up, our furnace gave up the ghost and needs to be replaced and our drains for the washer and the bathtub appear to have either collapsed or silted in and need to be replaced. Those are just the big-ticket items. Believe me when I say that each of those elephants have offspring they keep well nourished!
All of this reminds me of an old saying, “When you’re up to your (backside) in alligators, it’s hard to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp!” Come to think of it, maybe some of those critters aren’t elephants, they’re just big, hungry gators!
Another thing that has been simmering on the backburner of my mind is now boiling over. That is my self-imposed deadline to finally finish writing my book about the Texas Revolution. I’ve been working on it for three years and I made finishing it my top, No. 1 priority for the year. It’s still in the same condition it was back in January when I set the deadline. I know it’s something I can postpone, but that’s what I’ve been doing for three years and it’s killing me to keep putting it off.
Despite all these elephants (and alligators and hippos), I must still count my many blessings. My home did not flood during Hurricane Harvey and I’m not living with the mess of reconstruction. My car is still running (barely) and did not get flooded. We have extra income from the weekend jobs at the Texas Renaissance Festival.
Additionally, this is has been a banner year for me. I’m living out a lifelong dream to be a sports photographer by photographing Texans, Astros and Skeeters games. I got to do some “week of” Super Bowl coverage. My in-laws took my family on a Caribbean cruise last summer (major bucket list item). Our prodigal son returned home! My daughter landed her first real job teaching English in China. My wife completed her master’s degree. I have a job that love and work with people that I like and respect.
All things considered, it’s been a very good year. So why am I feeling crushed under the weight of all those elephants? Most of my problems can be resolved by moving to a new home and buying a new car. Financially, however, the two are not combatable but appear to be necessary. I can also chip away at the birthdays, anniversaries and holidays as they approach. (One bite at a time!). I can set aside time to work on the book and at least let it simmer some more. As much as I’d like to finish it, at least making significant progress by the end of the year would reduce the boiling frustration I feel.
So, here I am with five weeks left in the year facing a broadside of things to do and elephants to eat. I guess it’s time to pick up my knife and fork, stand on the precipice and look back at that swamp full of giant creatures and shout, “bring it on!”
So once again, I say, “And here … we … go!”