The eight days of Christmas.
Several years ago, Christmas-tinukkah was born when we finally threw up our hands and gave up trying to squeeze every one– and everything– we needed and wanted to do between the hours of sunset on December 24th and sunset on December 25th.
In fact, I propose that in addition to the three kings of record, that there was in fact a mysterious dark camel king, who, arriving some time after the punctual Fed Ex kings, brought the Baby Jesus a sundial, symbolizing the gift of time.
Now wouldn’t that have made a magnificent gift? Is there anything as rare and valuable to any of us as our time? Or how about the time that someone else gives to us?
By unraveling Christmas Day, our family is able to have more celebrations –and more relaxed celebrations –giving us the chance to savor the holiday. No need for us to rush, because the next day, and the next day are equally as significant.
Here is how it works. If you are sick, or just don’t feel so good, or if Babe the Ox is wallowing in the ditch –no problem! Tomorrow is just as good! The celebration is in your heart.
So why not the 23rd as well? And/or the 26th? There’s nothing magical or mandatory about the revolution of the earth around the sun that requires us to order our activities into a 24 hour span. We honor Christmas by spending more time in its celebration.
On Christmas Eve Day, my older son and I went on a long, leisurely walk by the river. From time to time we stopped, and watched the current, looking for critters, inhaling the fresh winter air. Someday too soon he will move away, and I will treasure our conversation that meandered and scampered like a pup dog investigating every bush. To me it was magnificent. What a gift to be able to visit with my first born, to hear his thoughtful and intelligent observations, and to realize what a kind person he is.
Even an attempted late lunch with one of my oldest and best friends later that day that had to be re-scheduled because the restaurant had closed an hour earlier, posed no problem. We laughed, hugged, and decided to try it again on New Year’s eve. At least we got to see each other. We had made time for each other.
Yes, sometimes, a lot of times, I do wish I had more time for myself. I feel like I bounce from family member to family member and back to work like a pinball in a pinball machine.
But the way I figure it, having a lot of time for oneself but no one to spend it with would be as bad as having a ton of money and being all alone. And by strrrrrretching out the holiday (we do the same thing with our birthdays–we call them birthday-tinakkuhs), I am actually able to carve out some “me” time without feeling guilty.
Sometimes it may mean just exchanging a card. And that makes the card even that much more meaningful, since it becomes the symphony, and not a prelude. Some days we exchange gifts–or we don’t even exchange–just one person gives a gift. And it is all about that offering! Sometimes it is just spending some special time together doing something that you enjoy doing– maybe driving around and looking at the lights, or watching a movie. The main thing is that you are not in such a rush, so that you can focus and be mindful of your joy in the moment.
The truth of the matter is that it is we ourselves who encase ourselves in our own prisons of perceptions. And we don’t have to. It is a priceless gift we can give to ourselves and to those we love and who love us– to enjoy each moment as best we can, before the days and the minutes slip through our fingers.
I remember hearing this story about a very wealthy man who began a long and arduous pilgrimage to visit a shrine or something–the fellow started out with a great deal of money– and along the way there were many mishaps and tribulations, so that by the time he reached his destination, he was impoverished with nothing left to give.
He was asked, “What gift do you bring?”
And he answered, “Along the way here, I have lost everything that I had planned to give. The only gift I have left to prove my devotion is my long journey.”
I wish everyone the gift of time. For yourselves. For those you love. For those who love you.