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The Time of the Season

“I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the word seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.” 
– Taylor Caldwell

It is the evening of the Winter Solstice as I write this. It was heralded by a total lunar eclipse following a meteor shower in the eye of Gemini. There could scarcely be a better set-up for the arrival of Santa Claus this Saturday.

Celestial metaphors aside, cosmological events coinciding with religious and commercial holidays have a way of adding greater significance to a time of year that brings front and center, joy, tragedy and reflection. In one respect, what are the problems of a few individuals among billions in a vast and ever expanding universe?

But on the other hand, what could be more significant than a set of circumstance so special, that even among the infinite, they remain unique?

This is not my Christmas wish list nor is it my holiday shopping guide.

This is an ode to charity.

I’m not talking about the giving of money to those less fortunate, though that is a kind and noble enterprise. I’m addressing the notion of being charitable to yourself with your own time. There is barely a week left in the year that was 2010, and almost every religion, spirituality and theology on earth recommends cleaning house before entering the new year. Have you cleaned your house? Have you had any time to deal with the important thing -yourself?

If you’re like me, you spent a lot of the first half of the year setting up the second half. Some of you, also like me, spent much of the second half of the year planning the events of the final month. I think I speak for everyone when I confess that most of this month was spent running around preparing for the holidays, or stressing about how to fulfill holiday expectations. Some of you had to make travel arrangements, and we all might not be as financially stable as we’d prefer to be before committing to not-totally-necessary travel fees, escalated shopping budgets and long holiday hours. Why?

If you’ve entered into any of these responsibilities with the idea that they are obligations, you are doing nobody a favor, least of all yourself. And the martyrs among you may be surprised (I hope not) to learn that nobody is going to erect a statue of you for your efforts. The truth is that this final calendar week is the best time to look back upon the year that was and ask yourself if you were the person you wanted to be.

Did you maintain the key goals and ethics that you’ve set for yourself? Was anyone else’s life enriched in the process of knowing you? Was anyone worse off for your existence? These are heavy questions, no doubt, but questions that you should ask yourself every once in a while. You’ve got a little more than a week to get a good answer for yourself to those questions. You’ve got ten days to rectify a wrong or else carry 2010 baggage into 2011. For some of us, consequences of 2010 will be unavoidably extended, but our resolutions and the very nature of how we address our previous actions can be much better, more positive and ultimately even rewarding. Has the groundwork you’ve been laying been a worthwhile expenditure of your time and effort? Has all that’s been neglected been part of that bargain?

Most importantly, have we been really listening to those around us? Is the time spent working in order to save up money to buy an extravagant gift worth the time away from the person you’re buying it for? I’d save anyone an O. Henry parable in giving everything to lose all. Time is the only true commodity, and therefore the most valuable gift –even just a few seconds, which is all it would take or cost for you to tell someone, “I love you,” or “I’m sorry.” What we do with that time, and who we share it with is the only testament to our existence.

Happy holidays, everybody. More time to you all!

Best Holiday Viewing – Night of the Meek (from TV’s The Twilight Zone)
Best Holiday Music – I Want to Be Santa Claus by Ringo Starr
Best Holiday Reading – Santa Steps Out by Robert Devereaux
Best Holiday Game – SSX Tricky (still, after all these years!)
Best Holiday Art – Krampus by Gary Baseman

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