I approach the bin, a huge black plastic garbage can, with trepidation. It's getting too full. I'll never get the mega-sized clear plastic bag to the car. Someone else will have to do it, so I walk away. But I want that stuff out of my house.
It occurs to me that recycling, although it should be a workable intervention to relieve hoarding, never works. You would think that if someone can't throw out a perfectly good cardboard box, but knows it has to go, that recycling would be solace, a certain consolation, knowing that a perfectly decent box isn't going to landfill.
But OCPD, (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder) is one of our more intractable disorders. And with all of the presents, all the good boxes coming our way, sufferers are going to feel the stress.
2. Holiday Social Skill
This time of year I usually set you up for a good party. Most people find at least one party to mark the holidays, and cluster around the guac.
Let's say Billy meets Sally approaching the guac, and they can't help but say something to one another while dipping. Sally asks, "So what's going on? How's work treating you?"
Billy has a really good work story to tell and he begins to tell it, starts to really get into it when someone else joins them, jumps in with some kind of declaration, maybe news of a new baby, or a story about Newt, a joke.
Sally turns from Billy to the new arrival because she hasn't got much choice, or doesn't see a choice, and that's the end of Billy's story.
We would call this an interruption, and interruptions are bad, everyone knows this. In the process of interrupting, the interrupter is supposed to catch himself and say, "My bad! I'm so sorry! I interrupted! You first. Finish what you were saying."
But that doesn't usually happen, maybe because people are high in these situations, or nervous. If Sally had finer social skill, she would somehow get the microphone back to Billy, or at least return her personal attention to his story.
She could gently inform the one who has interrupted, "Hold on, Billy's telling a story, let him finish."
Or she could wait out the speaker, then get back to Billy. "You were telling me about something when we were interrupted." Delicious, delightful social skill. Better than the guac.
Why is it so important? Why is this process considered social skill, on par with refraining from interrupting?
Because it puts Billy back in the room.
3. Gave It to You
I walk through the front door after a long day's work singing, belting, "I got chills electrifying. And I'm losing control, . . . ." It's from that song, You're the One That I Want from the musical, Grease.
My kid gets up to greet me. He's a young adult, he should. He says, "Do these songs just run through your head all day long?"
Seems like it. But give it to someone, and you don't have it anymore. No one knows why.
4. You Is Kind, You Is Smart, You Is Important
My mother asks me if I want to see The Help. It's playing in her building and she fell asleep when they took her to the theater to see it a few months ago, channeling my father. This is a second chance. She'll go without me, of course, but it might be fun, seeing it together.
Things are often more fun in twos.
I'm pretty sure I don't want to go. I don't like sitting more than I have to sit. It is an occupational hazard, sitting too much, hard on the back muscles. And there's so much to do. But the book was great, and the movie has to be a feel good movie. Why turn down a free one of those?
Abileen, the "colored" maid, raises the children of her rich white employers. These women tend to abdicate the job of parenting to their maids. Worse, they criticize their children mercilessly for being children, behaving like children, being messy, inappropriate, and honest.
Abileen uses persuasion, positive messaging, as her parenting style. She has her little girl repeat after her, You Is Kind, You Is Smart, You Is Important. (The green You Is Kind. . .etc., links you to this priceless scene.)
I is kind, I is smart, I is important, repeats the little girl.
I think of a thousand patients who didn't have anyone like Abileen in their lives and it makes me want to scream.
5. Less Holy Matrimony
Apparently there's a PEW poll (like Gallup, survey research) that is showing fewer Americans are getting married.
In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are, a record low.Sustaining marriage does seem like an impossible goal for many people, and getting married, a risk so many just won't take.
And who can blame them? It's so hard to accept people for who they are, to love them anyway. Love can be a thankless job.
But I look around my mother's retirement community and the loneliness is palpable. It's like a college residence hall, except that most of the rooms are singles, not doubles.
But there are a few couples, and they touch one another. Publicly. They may have issues, maybe old issues, but they have one another, and they're grateful for that. When bingo is over, they leave together.
I just loved it when I heard that Tim Tebow gets down on one knee after playing football, gives thanks to the Old Mighty. (For those of you who are new here, this is how my grandfather of blessed memory, an immigrant who taught himself to speak and read English at the age of 16, referred to God.)
Tebowing has come to mean praying on one knee, but not just praying, taking the pose in strange places under unusual circumstances.
What's interesting about this is that in Israel you see people praying all of the time, true, not on bended knee, but everywhere, especially on buses and in airports, mumbling while staring into prayer books written in a funny language. So Tim didn't make it up, but he's still pretty marvelous.
The thing that struck me about the Tim Tebow story (Saturday's Wall Street Journal, all about the good deeds he's done, his charity) is that people are really hoping he'll fail, that he'll start to lose games for Denver. They want him to fail, want to see how he behaves when he loses, if he'll lose his faith, starts using drugs, or is caught with his pants down. Clearly unclear on the concept, his detractors.
Happy holidays everyone, no matter what your language.