It is that time of year again when we gather with family and friends, celebrating the season’s particular feasts and memories, and I find myself contemplative. It is somewhat interesting, and maybe a bit sad, that we call these last couple months of the year The Holiday Season. In reality, there are holidays, and Holy Days, throughout the year. Especially for the Liturgical calendar, every week is marked within the broader year by particular feasts and festivals. And there is something similar for the secular calendar. Together, we have New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day, Lent and Easter, Memorial Day and Independence Day, Reformation Day and All Saints’, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then we start back over again. Throughout the year, we have these regular pauses to bring us out of the monotony and back together to our communities.
Yet, I suppose it also makes me sad that we don’t let holidays have their own months. It’s not that I don’t like Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Independence Day, but not letting celebrations have their place turns them into a nuisance instead of the special event that they are. Instead of looking forward to them, we dread the months-long broadcasting, tiring of even the most beautiful of music before we have a chance to enjoy it. I sometimes wonder if that’s why my family didn’t celebrate all of these holidays when I was growing up. We have let their specialness be stolen from us. And with that, we lose our connection to those that came before and to the traditions and meaning of the past.
But why do I think of these things? There are a couple of reasons. For one, at least a month before writing this, I began to see Christmas decals adorning the paper bags at a checkout lane. It is that time of year when most people will be getting together with family, and we really won’t be. We are also just leaving the time of year when we remember those saints who have gone before us. As we come to the close of the Liturgical year, it becomes a time of reflection! But for today, I think on these things because this verse has returned to my mind as it has so many times before:
So teach us to number our daysPSalm 90:12
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
This is one of those verses that I find myself reflecting on regularly, considering something new every time I read it. And while there is a greater context to the verse, today it reminds me to be still, to reflect, to consider the years of many, and to remember the days of old. It causes me to ponder what these times and seasons, these feasts and festivals, mean not only in my context but in that of the generations that came before. Why do we celebrate them, when did we begin to, and whom are they for? Further, how can I push past the overcrowding months – both of my own making and the culture’s – to number these days I have, resting in these pauses in the season to celebrate, learn, and enjoy?
I don’t want to rush by these moments with my family, as I did not cherish the ones I had as I was growing up. I want to enjoy each season and festival with its own uniqueness, memories, and teachings and teach them to my own children so that they may cherish them in the days to come.
Blessings to you and yours,
~Madelyn Rose Craig