29 December 2007

The Pause That Refreshes

The day has come and gone, and as much as I resent the frenzy of advent, I love the languor of yuletide. The days between Christmas and New Years are slower. The demands are fewer. For once, I am current with the NYTimes. My checkbooks are balanced. The socks are nestled all snug in their drawer, I have cleaned my computer screen and keyboard and by evening I shall have ironed my shirts.

I actually enjoy shoveling the snow when there is time to spare. Little is more satisfying that cutting a clean path down to the concrete sidewalk. When the sun shines, and it did all December 26th, the street and walk were dry while the lawn was white.

Most people would not think of chores as pleasant, but to have the time to do them unhurried and unharried has been a delight. That slowness is what I love. It reminds me of childhood when time barely moved at all. During the days leading to Christmas it fairly came to a halt, almost freezing solid during the day of Christmas Eve.

How unbearable it was then, the long day. Childhood minds race into the next morning, unable to think of anything else so that the hours beforehand moved like prisoners in shackles and chains.

But right now, this moment, as the long gray daylight is about to fade to black, as the corned beef approaches done, as the quarterly taxes appear on the mind’s horizon, I shall peel potatoes and look forward to pressing some shirts.

By midweek the world will come back with a roar. Our fiscal year begins with the calendar, and we must tally all our money to see if we have enough. This is not an easy time for charitables. And then the long slog through the winter, which will only very slowly get lighter and warmer.

Already I am thinking of Easter, and should. The stories are inseparable. My resolves this season are to be more constant in my studies, less indolent in my tasks – to make the days worth more as without doubt they are growing fewer.

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