Confessions of a Christmas procrastinator

By Bill Colvard -

Every year at about this time, I realize that once again I have missed the boat on sending out Christmas cards. The next thought is usually, “well, I’ll make up for it next year. I will paint exquisitely beautiful cards for everyone that I love and even for a few people that I don’t like very much just to show off.”

It’s not impossible. It could happen. Really it could. Or so I tell myself each year at about this time. I used to get paid to do watercolor sketches and while “exquisitely beautiful” is something of a stretch, I am early enough in the cycle of delusion that the constraints of reality seem unimportant.

Then, completing a couple of hundred watercolor sketches languishes at the bottom of my “to do” list for about six months until I am finally forced to admit that this is never going to happen. At least not this year.

I haven’t completed even one watercolor since 2008 but with six months until Christmas, I can pull together enough baseless optimism to believe that I might manage one watercolor and have it printed on a bunch of cards. This seems like a reasonable compromise under the long days of the summer solstice.

When the leaves begin to turn and thoughts of the upcoming holidays become inevitable, I start to wonder where I put my watercolors the last time I used them back in 2008. Since I distinctly remember putting them in the drawer of the drawing table in the studio that I closed down at the end of 2009 and moving them into the less expensive studio that I abandoned in 2011 when the entire detritus of a 30-year career in fashion was stuffed into the two unused bedrooms of my house, it becomes clear that an expedition of search and recovery will be required. I must organize my stuff to find the stuff that is lost.

A reasonable person would just go out and buy a box of cards at this point but reason was never a part of this voyage. Christmas cards are no longer for me a way to exchange holiday greetings with friends and family. I have embarked on a mystical quest to atone for the neglect I have done to those relationships over the years. Only the most perfect, most personal card can undo that damage. Of course no one knows about this but me.

Procrastination is my ticket to the land of delusion. As a good procrastinator can always do, one fairly simple task has just sprouted a virtually undoable task. It is probably about the time that I am surveying the floor to ceiling mess that is concealing my watercolors that I realize that I don’t really have addresses for the people to which I will be mailing these hypothetical cards. Now I have a third task. Compiling a mailing list.

We are beginning to get to the heart of procrastination. Each task that is put off sprouts a less pleasant task. Which in turn morphs into a still less pleasant task. If by some miracle, I ever sat down and started dashing off quick sketches for my family and friends, it would be immeasurably pleasurable and progress would be quick and easy. This is fun to contemplate all through the late winter and spring. By summer when the joy of that process is replaced by the pressure of completing the task, the thought of completing just one masterful sketch becomes more palatable and there’s still enough time to conveniently forget that my watercolors always had way more joie de vivre than actual skill.

By the fall when I have to contemplate attacking the storage rooms, the anticipated pleasure of the sketches is totally dominated by that monster of a mess. It would be nice to finally be able to find things so there is that. But I can think of no upside to the sheer drudgery of compiling a mailing list. Reality is beginning to rear its ugly head.

Does anyone still mail out Christmas cards anyway is a thought that pops up about Thanksgiving. Perhaps not. Each year that I fail to send out cards, fewer and fewer arrive at the house as I am dropped from more and more Christmas card lists for my non-reciprocation. Have people stopped sending out Christmas cards altogether or have they just stopped sending them to me? It’s hard to say.

Which brings me to my grandest Christmas delusion of all. When I have finally worn out the patience of every single person who knows me, I shall turn the tables and send them all, each and every one, a gorgeous sketch personalized for them and painted on a cookie tin with homemade cookies inside. Yes, there will be cookies. There must be cookies because this will be a very grand gesture.

It’s apparent even to me that I have exited the land of delusion and gone speeding into Fantasyland. But it doesn’t really matter. I’m still getting a half dozen or so cards a year and some of those folks are pretty die hard about the practice so it could be years before I have to start mailing out cookies. Maybe by then I won’t even need a mailing list. Maybe I can just throw everything into my house drone and tell it to drop a box on the porch of each of my friends. If I’m going to spend Christmas in Fantasyland, why not set an extra place for technology?

By Bill Colvard

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.

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