Time and the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us. I love to watch the children, who, starting with Halloween, both anticipate and revel in the celebrations. I can remember, not only as a child, but also as an adult, looking forward to, preparing for and enjoying the holidays.

Now, it seems that there is an additional component – time. It seems to me that time has increased its space, telescoped, inflated – however one calls it, it seems that more time is needed to accomplish an increasingly greater menu of activity. As most people I know seem to have experienced this, I don’t think I am crazy in noticing.

I remember planning or helping to plan Halloween costumes, carving pumpkins, handmade treats, and admiring the costumes of excited trick-or-treaters. Now, I buy candy (my daughter insists the kids will be quite offended if non-candy treats are offered), and answer the door for two hours. The trick or treaters seem serious, out to get as much candy as possible in the shortest amount of time.   No more chatting. No pausing at any door. Yes, it is still Halloween, but what has time done?

I remember several days of preparations for Thanksgiving. There were family gatherings, pleasant or not, in which one could travel more or less at leisure. I remember being able to sit at table an hour or more, having real conversation. Now, cooking a Thanksgiving meal is rushed, and the people eating it finish as soon as possible. Travel is rushed – hurry to get ready, see how quickly one can get there, and shorten the visit because one needs to be at work the next day. What has time done? Or is it our devices that lure us away from each other?

I remember sitting at a kitchen table wrapping Christmas gifts. The aim was not to get done as soon as possible, but to make each gift as artistically beautiful as possible. Yes, there was preparation work for Christmas, but not the rush to hurry up and get done as much as possible in a short time. There was time to choose “the right” gift, to bake cookies and cakes, to attend parties, to work together to prepare. Now, I feel more like the manager of a warehouse trying to fill orders under a deadline. Decorations, if any, need doing in a hurry; the house needs to be cleaned pronto.   All these things need to be done as the pace of work life also increases, with deadlines to be met before the holidays. Yes, those things were there before, but not nearly as rushed as now. I am not Scrooge.   Holidays are still enjoyable, and the spirit of giving is an important part of life. I just wish there were more time to savor.

Perhaps there is a way to work with time’s increased pace. Perhaps the trend to fragment ourselves into smaller and smaller living units has something to do with it.   Many hands, after all, make lighter work.   Perhaps we again need the extended family, the tribe, the community.   Blessed are they who have successfully managed to support each other and share the joys and the work.

I wish for all the gift of time.

Peace, Diane