Those things that I used to think were old-fashioned and even codger-like become more and more true as I get older. You know the stuff I mean – the discussions of how hard it was to get to school through the snow (I had that one with folks on Sunday), or the talks about how far we used to be able to stretch a few dollars ($24,000 seemed like millions when I got my first job). When I was 22, I thought people who talked like this were just nostalgic folks who didn’t know what the “real” world was like. Oh, the blissful ignorance of youth.
But here I sit, freshly 35, and I can’t help but think those nostalgic people had it right. In this Christmas season, I find myself longing for some of that old fashioned stuff – a fireplace where the people I love most can gather to talk and maybe even sing a few songs, gifts that are few but made with love, the chance to bundle up and go sledding. I long for these simple things.
Yet, I think we may be beyond them, especially during this season of the year when we have finals to write and grade, when gifts must be bought and travel arrangements made, when we are busy with parties (I have three this weekend) and events. I wonder if we can go back to that slower pace; I even wonder if that slower pace ever existed.
So this Christmas, I am going to try to build my life this way. I am only buying the fewest gifts I can, things that will, hopefully, be useful or deeply meaningful to the receiver. I am further paring down my belongings by giving away as much clothing as I can and by donating big stacks of books to Bookmooch, where I can then give the points away to reading programs in rural communities and prisons. I am donating a little money through Kiva to help other people build their dreams and sustainable lives. Most of all, I am trying – as I keep trying – to slow down so that I can feel what there is to feel in this magical season.
Last night, as I walked to my car, my fingers started to tingle and the lining of my nose burned just a tad. I breathed deep and watched my breath send fog through the air. Finally, a moment of Christmas.