So this week I tried to use up the last of my annual leave. There were still 6 days lingering and for the past few years I’ve lost a few of those and I was determined that this year I would get them all. This was the only week which didn’t have some important diary dates and thus it was crossed out with a big bold purple cross in my Parson’s Pocketbook. (I would have done a similar thing with my Google Calendar but I’ve never really quite got the hang of it. Instead I got the word HOLIDAY printed in small orange letters at the top of each page. Not the same as a big purple cross. At all.)
On Monday I shared with my Facebook friends that I did have a few tasks to complete before the holiday could begin. Things like 2 sermons, ironing, housework, expenses, read the book group book, Income tax return… that sort of thing. “Oh no you don’t!” they all screamed. “Those are not holiday things to do!” they chided. “And when do you suggest I do do them?” I muttered darkly.
For its all very well to say that our day off should be a day off where we lounge around in our onesies reading trashy novels or watching QVC in the morning, before staggering to the phone to order a carry-oot. Yes, that’s all very well if you have a Housekeeper, Secretary, Team of Clergy and Lay assistants and are up to date with all your paperwork. NOT IN MY WORLD, IT AIN’T.
Most priests I know have to use their day off for a quick hoover, some washing and ironing if you’re lucky, visit the elderly parents and then fall asleep in front of the TV missing the end of a particularly gruesome autopsy. Well, that’s my world anyway. And thus the holiday began…
I whizzed round with the hoover, skooshed a bit of polish in the air and flicked the duster over the mantlepiece in the lounge. Got slightly waylaid when I thought it might be nice to move the furniture around so that it is cosier in winter. Got some moved before my bad back screamed to me “Stop!” and I gave up. Decided I’d done enough housework. Left the room half done and thus it has remained.
Thought I might finish my new Phil Rickman book, The Magus of Hay, before starting on the book group one but as soon as I sat down, it began. For this next bit you have to imagine a small impish creature sitting on my left shoulder with a particularly wicked glint in his eye. Thus he whispered as I read my book…
So have you done your sermons then?
And you hadn’t forgotten its Advent 1 on Sunday and you need to prepare the Candle prayers?
And who is doing the greenery this year? Remember H cut through her tendons at that particularly bloodthirsty Craft Group. She can’t do them.
And the Carol Service… have you decided what carols you’re doing? You know you need to let the choir leader know before Wednesday. They have to practice, you know.
Remember that purple cloth you took to the clergy conference? If you want to use that again you’ll need to get rid of all the wax. And while we’re on about that, there is a pile of ironing lying through there.
What about the Income Tax? If you don’t get it in before December your accountant won’t be pleased. “I’ll do it every week so there’s not so much to do,” you promised last year. Ha!
And while you’re thinking about the Advent Candles and what you’re going to do, don’t forget to let the pew-sheet person know before Thursday so she can add it on.
While we’re talking about the pew sheet, did you give her the notices too, and the sick list? Wouldn’t it be easier if you did them yourself in Advent with all the extras? Well you’d better tell her then.
Ah Advent! Usually you do a little something extra. You haven’t done a little extra for a while, have you? What with those two other churches you’re looking after, you’ve made excuse after excuse. What about Compline? People like Compline. That wouldn’t take long to organise.
I turned over my page. The Magus of Hay was going to have to wait. Would it be possible to get it all done in one day and then I could relax? Because I sure as hell couldn’t relax and read with my feet up while that little imp reminded me of all the things I had left undone and those things which I ought to have delegated and hadn’t because Lord knows everyone else is busy too. The despair was overwhelming. (Ok, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration. But it was rather spoiling my book.)
And then it came to me! (I like to think there was a lovely angel on my right shoulder nudging me with his big fluffy wings for this bit. Cute, huh?) How about if I didn’t take my holiday? How about if I just got on with all the work that had to be done but didn’t tell a soul that I wasn’t on holiday? What if I left the answering machine on and let someone take my midweek service, and just cleared the decks for Advent? Genius! I can’t tell you how happy that made me feel on Monday night when that decision was made. I could go back to work! Yay! (Did I mention I love my job?)
So it came to pass. It is nearly all done too. Well, except the ironing, and the Income Tax return. Oh, and the expenses. But I do still have tomorrow.
I will get those holidays back some time. Perhaps in Advent, two at a time. Or perhaps in January after my post-Christmas break
down. But you know it is a small price to pay for the good feeling I have today. I think I’m nearly ready for Advent. Isn’t that what its all about?
Postscript… just as I finish typing this Son No 1 phones to ask if I can help him move the last of his stuff to the new flat tomorrow. He has a bad back too. Ach there’s no rush for that Income Tax Return, is there?
(As an aside, the Magus of Hay was rather disappointing.)