Holiday Check-in

Things that I did over the long Thanksgiving weekend, beginning Wednesday:
  • Finished the first sleeve on the sweater I'm knitting; started the second
  • Listened to George MacDonald's The Princess and Curdie (1883)
  • Wrote two blog posts ("10,000 Hours" and "The Eternal Feminine")
  • Went grocery shopping for Thanksgiving dinner
  • Watched the BBC production of Gaudy Night (1987)
  • Cooked (Thursday morning, 8:30am-1:30pm)
  • Listened to Tennyson's Idylls of the King (composed 1833-1874), with biographical introduction and critical discussion
  • Went over to friends' home for dinner; ate dinner
  • Watched The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Talked with my sister and my mother on the phone
  • Finished Andrew Greeley's Myths of Religion (1977)
  • Watched High Fidelity (2000) and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
  • Started Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter (1924) and Kathleen Norris's The Cloister Walk (1997)
  • Went to a yoga class; stayed for fencing practice
  • Wrote several long emails to friends
  • Finally cleared the boxes out of the front hallway that my mother brought in April
  • Watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
  • Went to church, made an Advent wreath with my son
  • Helped my husband remove the bolts from the toilet cistern
  • Did laundry
  • Went shopping with my husband and son for a new Christmas tree (artificial, I'm afraid)
  • Put up tree and lights, started on decorations
Now, you tell me, why is it that I feel like I didn't do anything?


  1. Hmmm. Tough one. But since you ask (unless you were being rhetorical), you may feel that way b/c everything on your list--save for the excellent blog posts--was done for your or your family's benefit, not for some outside group or organization. Hence, the 'recognition' is different. My wife has asked me the same question for 27 years, and I never feel as though I have an adequate response. 'You're keeping our family together and rearing our children,' I say. Though compelling to me, that reply is usually not warmly received.

  2. Jeff,

    It's interesting that both I and your wife seem to have the same anxiety about "doing enough." This is exactly the question I was asking: why do we have this anxiety when it is clear we are doing so much (cooking, cleaning, shopping for food, participating in the community, caring for family and friends)? What "counts" as "doing something" and what doesn't--and why?

    I'm glad you enjoyed the blog posts!

  3. Maybe there's a little something missing from your list.
    from Luke 10... Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said...only one thing is needed...she has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

    Heck, she wasn't even making an advent wreath! :)
    When I teach at the Old Folks Home, I like to use this text and start with the question, "Who here spends alot of time just sitting?"

  4. Hi, thanks for the reply. I just wanted to be sure you understood I was in no way criticizing your choices--indeed, but for swapping out a movie title here and there (Ferris Bueller?), I could easily see myself similarly occupied. My point, which you pick up on in your reply, is that you are indeed serving your family by doing these things, but our reward system (intrinsic or otherwise) is not calibrated to recognize the vital role you play by doing 'little' things.

    I feel somewhat admonished when my wife complains that she hasn't 'gotten anything done' even though she's spent her day and energy doing all manner of things that are necessary for the livelihood of the family. I feel as though I contribute to her feeling that way by not counteracting the implicit reward system of upper middle class America and explaining the benefit that derives to those she loves by doing those 'little' things. [n.b., I am in no way implying that your no doubt good, and 'genius' husband lacks the precision in his feedback that I obviously do in mine.]

  5. Cindy,

    I agree. See post now on "The Work of God."


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