The unofficial tradition with the newspaper was to take Christmas week off. That was how things were when I started with the business in 2000 and I followed the same publication schedule when I became owner of the newspaper in 2004. It sounded like a pretty sweet deal, actually. Work all year for a whole week off at a time of year when you should stop and take a break. However, in recent years the week off became four, possibly five days off for me.
After all the work leading up to the Christmas Issue there had to be an equal amount of work put into tearing down the pages and prepping for the first issue of the New Year. There were other considerations as well which often put me back in the office earlier than Brenda. It was never a problem because after four days off I would start to get ‘itchy’ and needed to get back into the work routine.
Deadlines will do that to you.
This December has been completely different. What both of us noticed most was that neither of us is stressed out about anything. We would normally try to get the Christmas Issue billing in the mail as soon as we could but would still find ourselves waiting until February or March for the bulk of the payments to come in which added additional stress. For a change that is not part of our usual Christmas Tradition this year.
Another interesting difference is that we are not getting spread out too thin at this time of year. Yesterday someone commented to me that they had been in attendance at a local Christmas presentation and noted how odd it was not to see me there with my camera. In fact, we haven’t been to very many functions that would normally be our focus going into our Christmas Issue. We have actually got the time to attend the odd house party for a change – a first for us!
It also means our own Christmas break will not be restricted to just four days. I’ve already notified all my freelance clients that I am unavailable to work for them for a period of time around Christmas. I am ‘this close’ to clearing off all outstanding writing projects to free up that time and we are going to just relax without a deadline controlling the window of opportunity presented to us. It is both exciting and a little bit disorienting for me.
The Deadline was what kept me grounded. It was the constant ticking time bomb that forced me to be organized enough to diffuse the bomb early every Monday with a trip out of town to collect the finished printed copies of the new edition of the Similkameen News Leader. I do miss that in many ways but I also don’t miss it in many ways.
This Christmas will be interesting for me without that ticking in the background.
I have struggled for years to try to establish a Christmas Tradition for Brenda and I that would be ‘our thing’ and last year I basically resigned myself to the idea that our tradition was to have no set routine. Maybe that was a product of the Deadline. There was only so much time available to do something at Christmastime because of it. This year will be different and I’m looking forward to it!