I blame Thanksgiving this year. It was so late that by the time I got back to New York after the holiday, we were basically in December. Barely two weeks later and I’m looking ahead to just one more week in the office before vacation. Is it any wonder that I heard two people talking in the elevator about how they hadn’t managed to get Christmas trees or get ready for the holidays at all yet, or that a friend mentioned she was feeling a little indifferent to Christmas this year? There just hasn’t been much time!
But oddly enough, I find myself a bit at the opposite end of that spectrum. My Christmas tree has been up for weeks, and this past weekend I had some friends over to celebrate, eat cookies, and sing carols. This week I had the first of several work holiday parties (the second is tonight), and next week I’ll sing my heart out at two (yes, two) holiday concerts.
Somehow I’ve packed it all in this season. By the time I get to Christmas itself, I’ll probably be wondering why it’s not 2015 yet.
So this is a reminder, to you all, but probably even more to myself, to take a minute and look around. If you feel December zooming past you, or if you’re running madly from one holiday event to the next without time to think, take a breather. No matter what the holiday season means to you — whether it’s a religious holiday or a secular one, or nothing at all — it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of everyday life amplified by our own and each other’s holiday chaos.
In the northern hemisphere we’re nearing the winter solstice — the shortest day of the year — and I’ve been taking time most nights to light a few candles. There’s something soothing about candlelight as it creates a safe, warm space to reflect on my day, on the year that’s winding down and the one that’s about to start. Sitting next to my Christmas tree, with its colored lights and ornaments, brings a sense of quiet as well.
Talking about lighting candles reminds me of a Madeleine L’Engle passage I came across during a recent reread of one of her memoirs, A Circle of Quiet. Madeleine is talking about a writer’s responsibility to be, in his or her writing, a person who has a response to the world. She writes, “To refuse to respond is in itself a response. Those of us who write are responsible for the effect of our books. Those who teach, who suggest books to either children or adults, are responsible for their choices. Like it or not, we either add to the darkness of indifference and out-and-out-evil which surround us or we light a candle to see by.”
So in the midst of both the problems of the larger world and our own personal business, take a minute to light your own candles against the darkness, whatever those might be.
….That was much more serious than I planned it to be. Here, take a look at the Into the Woods trailer. Anyone else hopeful and excited? 🙂