I was looking around the knitting blogs, and found a lot of variations on “I’m not making resolutions. What is a day on a calendar?”
Up to them, of course. But I want to speak up for the calendar. Admittedly, our methods of keeping track of time are made-up, and at the very least are just one of many options. We can use heating and cooling to ignore the seasons entirely, and electric lights and computers let us live nocturnally if that’s what we prefer. We are not slaves to clocks and calendars. “Time,” Einstein said, “is God’s way of keeping everything from happening at once.” That’s all.
But I like time. The days, the weeks, the months, the special times and ordinary times. They give a rhythm to our lives. We can enjoy the festival times because we have spent the fast times in contemplation. We can observe all the special days and hours, big and small, with rituals and traditions that give us satisfaction and become part of the memories of our families. They seem more significant because there are long stretches of ordinary time in between.
In church yesterday morning, we made a quartet to sing “Comfort, Comfort Ye, My People” by Olearius. I love that piece. Our wonderful organist asked me “How do you like to take this? Like a madrigal? a dirge?” I thought that was an intriguing pair of options. Personally, I like it as a madrigal with a Caribbean flavor, but I could not come up with any steel drums. We rehearsed a little, and sang it in three minutes or so, and that is it for the year. We will not hear that piece of music again till Advent comes around again on the calendar.
The church had been recast, with the red elements removed and just white and gold remaining for Epiphany. We sang the appropriate carols, and the pastor talked about the custom of making resolutions. He reminded us that every Sunday we come to church for spiritual uplift and refreshment and fellowship, to make our resolutions afresh each week. This is true. He suggested to us that reflecting Christ in our relationships and seeking opportunities to translate our faith into action would cover most of the worthwhile New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps. It will not cover my goal of making a cross-stitch piece this year, but he was speaking on a more rarefied plane than that. Still, New Year’s Day is a great time to contemplate new adventures, big or small.
Now, I am a religious woman and therefore not superstitious, but we also have a traditional dinner on New Year’s Day. Pork for looking forward, root vegetables for strength, greens for prosperity, and black-eyed peas for luck. Actually, we were fresh out of black-eyed peas this year, and since we are not superstitious, we are letting them go, but the other special New Year’s foods were on the table. Why not? It is a punctuation, a marking of this part of the year.
There are things we do for New Year’s, and things we have been doing for winter. I made soap and bath foam in wintry scents: ginger, cinnamon, sandalwood. We brought out the woolen throws and the basket of scarves and hats to put by the door. We don’t rely much on our heater, and dress in warm clothes. I do not like winter much, to be frank, but I still want it to be different from summer.
I like the different days of the week to be different, too. Days for family dinners, for class, for rehearsals, for cleaning the bathrooms, for going to church. Again, it is a matter of rhythm. We can appreciate each nuance more for the variety, and for the predictability which puts the surprises into sharper relief. The past two weeks have been outside of that usual routine, which marks them out as holiday. We have stayed up late and slept in and napped, eaten at all times of the day, had parties and lolled around. When we go back to the regular rhythm, we will be refreshed by this variation.
Today is the last day of my long weekend. Tomorrow my husband goes back to work (thank God!) and the next day #2 daughter leaves to resume her studies. The day after that, the boys go back to school, and that night will be Twelfth Night. The next day is Epiphany, the end of Christmas and the beginning of our return to the usual.
The usual should be improved by the festival days, the introspection and resolution, and the time spent lifted out of the usual.