A Word For...

My mother ran a household and raised five children, besides managing her career as a university teacher and researcher. She relied on rules, even or perhaps especially about the holidays.

Christmas decorations and music could begin appearing on American Thanksgiving (aka Thanksgiving), but no earlier.

The Christmas tree went up on December 21 (my father's birthday), probably because her classes were over and she'd turned in her grades.

The Christmas tree came down on January 1, not only because it had likely dropped needles and we were all exhausted by the holidays, but also so that she could get the house back to normal and go back to focusing on her real love: teaching.

As an adult, my life is less strict (and successful, by her standards). I recognize the value and meaning of her rules, but I also question how they apply to my life these days.

So lately I've been searching for the word for "that feeling of knowing a special time is over but not wanting it to be so." Also "finding ways to stretch out a pleasurable experience as long as possible to help soothe the grief of letting go."

(And no, neither of these have to do with the impending changes in political leadership south of the border. Or you know what, maybe they do.)

Mostly, I'm thinking of Christmas. And I'm interested in these words for emotions that we all might recognize but don't have a word for in English.

Yes: showing a person experiencing the emotion is usually more effective than naming it. So, I don't have scenes, but here are the events that prompted the search for emotion words.

I waited until January 8 to open the Christmas stocking and gifts my sister and I still exchange. The impetus wasn't especially about Christmas in particular--it was more to savor that feeling of "found time" when everyone else is on holiday and I can hunker down to finish special projects. I thoroughly enjoyed that time this year and found it difficult to release.

I kept drinking from holiday mugs (which I forgot about starting, since I don't celebrate American Thanksgiving, until December 1) through the 9th, but I recognized that the holidays weren't OFFICIALLY-officially done until I'd unloaded the dishwasher and put them away. Which was yesterday.

However you look at it, the holidays are now over, and the work continues. My mother was always pleased to start a new semester, conceive of a new proposal, start a new line of research. And although my projects aren't as well-defined as hers sometimes were, I too enjoy my life and my work.

Here are some important words around that: determined, committed, grateful.