I’m in the middle of cooking. I’m baking a pie, making a dip, mulling some wine, and procrastinating putting up party decorations. The videos I had made from my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary are picked up, waiting for wrapping, I have eighteen million presents for one sister and zero for the other, and my dad, apparently, is getting an IOU for a VHS > DVD transfer of a football game from 1995, since Katsu and I never got around to learning how to use that encoder thinjmajig.

Last year, this would have freaked me out that I had no presents for half my family, that I had not a single present for a single one of my friends. I would have been frantically dashing from store to store spending money hand over fist on crap that nobody needs. Last year, in fact, I took off from work early and spent a frantic three hours running – RUNNING – up and down Mass Ave with tears streaming down my face because I couldn’t find a good gift for my mother. I wound up in a bar swilling pomenegranate martinis and debating throwing myself into the river. I was the coproducer of a major PBS documentary that was mere weeks from airing, and the pressure was staggering – so much so that on December 26 I had a complete breakdown, packed up my gifts from under the tree, and gave my entire family the kind of screaming-at they hadn’t seen since my early teens.

Instead, I’m sitting calmly, listening to acoustic guitar Christmas carols, procrastinating, and drinking wine.

Even with the upheaval of the new job and the recent family strains, and even without the cache of a big title on a bigger film – dude, I am so fucking glad it’s not last year.

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