I’m glad the holidays are over. Mine were hectic and not much fun. Mostly, it’s because I worked a lot _ eight of the nine days between Dec. 23 and 31, including Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. We had people out sick, so we were short-staffed, and a lot of news happened. Not good news.
There’s almost never good news on holidays. There are a lot of family violence stories: Men kill their families, and children get slain. A couple of years ago, I worked on an attempted bombing. This year, we had a terrorist hacking on Christmas Day. It’s just not the kind of stuff that puts you in the holiday spirit.
I feel particularly worse during these times because everyone else seems happy, and wherever G. and I go, people ask, “Did you have a nice holiday?” or “Did you have a good Christmas?” I say yes because it’s just a white lie, but it makes me uncomfortable because I’m the world’s worst liar. I also do it because if I tell people I had a lousy Christmas, it will just make them feel awkward.
The other part of the stress comes from having a hectic holiday schedule. G. and I decided a few years ago that we weren’t going to allow my work schedule to interfere with the rest of our lives _ or, more accurately, we were going to try to limit the interference by squeezing in as much as we could.
So, for example, I finished my shift at 3 p.m. on Christmas Day, and then we drove from Chicago to Wisconsin to have dinner and open presents with his mom. We were still at her house at 9, when one of my co-workers called and asked if I could come in at 5 a.m. the next morning because someone else had called in sick. We turned off the Packers game and drove back to Chicago.
When it was all over, and I had Jan. 1 and 2 off, we drove to Michigan to see some friends visiting from New Zealand. The next morning, we woke up to find a lake effects snowstorm had hit east of Lake Michigan. We split immediately to get through the storm before dark.
“Can you just stay another night?” one of my friends asked. But we couldn’t because I had to work the next day. There’s no missing work for bad weather in journalism. In fact, when everyone else can’t drive because of a storm, you are expected to get your ass into the office to write about how others can’t travel. I’m not sure that our bosses see the irony in that.
Now it’s over, and I am exhausted. G. had sinus surgery yesterday, and we both spent the evening on the couch, watching movies. It was probably just what we needed.
For others who are in a hurry, I have a recipe that my mom just gave me. It makes a single-serving chocolate cake in two minutes in the microwave. The cake isn’t the best cake ever, but when you’re really busy, it’s a quick and easy way to satisfy a chocolate craving. And, it’s a great way to introduce children to baking.
2-Minute Chocolate Cake
2 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ½ tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla OR 1 teaspoon mint chocolate chips
Combine flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powder in a coffee mug. Mix well. Add egg, oil and milk. Mix well.
Microwave 1-2 minutes. The cake is done when it rises all the way to the top of the mug. It will collapse when it comes out of the microwave. Don’t be alarmed.