When our younger son was two and his brother seven, we remodeled the kitchen in the Anchorage house. We took out the wall between living room and kitchen, uncovered the fir sub-floor, and switched the sink to a new spot.
It was part do-it-yourself and part (the better part) the work of an excellent carpenter named Jake, then in his 70s and retired from his longtime work of building houses. (His age seemed ancient then, reasonable now of course).
One day when Jake went home for lunch (he lived four doors down and he would pull out his pocket watch and leave exactly at 12 and five), our younger son, having watched the work all morning, applied himself to a task. With a hammer, he carefully tapped out the vials (the liquid-filled glass where the bubble resides), in Jake’s three-foot level. We’d been doing things with hammers for days – helping seemed natural to an industrious two-year old. (No, I don’t remember what I was doing – making lunch maybe.)
After lunch when I explained I was off to buy a new level, and apologized, Jake made it clear that the two-year old carpenter wasn’t the problem. He said, “You try to do too much.” Multi-tasking. He didn’t use the modern phrase but that’s what he meant. I’m not sure how a stay-at-home parent can be anything but a multi-tasker – it seems to be the job description.
That day yielded one of the many lessons I learned from Jake – lessons about building things, gardening, and putting up pickles, but also about life. This time of year I hear Jake’s voice about trying to do too much.
And this aftermath week, busy already with hints of the next holiday, I’ve been thinking about where the energy for it comes from – and it does – sometimes simply from sleep, regular, deep, restorative sleep. Easier said than done, but not being exhausted is a great aide to being creative and imaginative – and cheerful. But desire and enthusiasm, and wanting to please, also provide fuel. And busy activity helps navigate the uncheerful weather and dark.
It’s December, and I wish you energy and good cheer as you multi-task through the bustle of the season now nigh!