This, right now, is surely the biggest, most bustling time of the year.
All of a sudden, it’s mid-December. Lots of people who are usually on top of things are counting the days until Christmas with disbelief. Seriously, nine days? Then eight, seven, six, five … ? Yikes. Just yesterday it was weeks away — we thought!
Mile-long to-do lists cram into pockets, quicken steps, intrude on thoughts. Millions are on deadline, and there’s nothing they can do about it except get the priority items accomplished. (Mall visit — check! Mixing bowl, cookie cutters, sprinkles, bake, cleanup — check!)
Unlike many of the rest of the year’s commitments that you can sort-of fudge once in a while, Christmas is a doozie, and it never takes a snow day or other delay. Usually there isn’t even a snooze button that morning. Dec. 25, 6 a.m. or 7, it’s showtime at last … and over too fast!
Hanukkah is happening, too. The first night was Tuesday for the lovely eight-day tradition celebrating the blessing of religious freedom.
These joyful Christian and Jewish holidays, plus the African cultural holiday Kwanzaa — bookended by Thanksgiving’s peace and New Year’s parties — give Americans weeks of reasons to congregate and celebrate.
Surrounding and incorporating the onset of winter, always a stirring change and challenge of its own, the holiday season offers light, love, warmth, spirit, beauty and resolve. A certain amount of stress, excess and exhaustion are all part of this annual schedule upheaval. The ingredients serve ultimately to refresh, delight, remind and inspire us, and strengthen ties of all kinds.
Well, we’re in the middle of it now. Many of us are in something of a chaotic rush today as we contemplate how to beat the clock and get at least the basics and the favorites done. It’s all a bit much — and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
At the heart of all this fuss is the glow and calm that come with giving, gathering, appreciating and pausing.
We’ll get there, surely, and get there in different ways. Maybe the tug of a child’s hand, the whisper of a prayer, the flicker of a candle, a wink across the table, a hug from a loved one, the lift of a decoration from the attic, the gleam of a package under the tree, a glimpse of a photo on the mantel, the laughs and commentary accompanying the family patriarch’s retelling of an old story — some unpredictable moment will put the bow on the package, and make it jell and feel richly worthwhile.
With luck, those sweet moments will keep rolling and returning like ribbon candy.
Our wish is for everyone to get their fill. And we thank all the agencies, volunteers, thoughtful neighbors and others who give tirelessly of themselves to help ensure the smiles and comfort of others. You work wonders year-round, and especially at this time of year. In our own small ways, we can all help keep kindness firing on all cylinders.
This is a shared time. That makes these weeks special, and gives them sparkle. Whether we greet each other with “happy,” “merry,” ”shalom,” “howdy” or what-have you — it’s all good. Regardless of beliefs, backgrounds and circumstances, this season truly belongs to everyone.
Ready or not, here it comes. And here it is. Enjoy!