far from the madding crowd

by bam


oh, geez. i forgot to set the alarm. really, i can think of nothing more, er, satisfying, more triumphant, ahem, than being the very first one in the door at the mall, the lead doler of dollars, as the mad crush of insanity, the bloated excess that parades as december, gets a real-deal headstart and a beat-the-rooster leap on the action.

to think i slept right through the bell. rolled over, kept dreaming some dream of maybe what christmas could be.
how sad that some poor soul, or some poor machine, had to be cranked, and instructed, to slap such a sticker on the very front page of the news.

on the paper that landed at my house, the news of the early-bird sale beat out some underneath story of migrants and money, and the sad sorry fact that western union is, for the poor, becoming the bank of the world. but with a price. and a steep one.

which, pretty much, i would say, is the point of the wee-hour sale. it’s a deal, but it comes with a rather high price.
it suggests–or maybe it confirms in bold letters–the fact that we’ve all lost our minds here. or is it our souls?

i don’t want to sound like the excess of turkey and pie turned me into some sort of a crank. but i don’t think it right to pretend that really it’s just how it is: we spend and we spend. we run and we pant. we collapse when we get to the end of december.

what if we took back the month? what if, starting today, we took back the day?

what if today, instead of the cash register chorus, we took to the sounds of the woods? what if we crunched leaves under our soles? what if we caught the sunbeams playing through the now-naked limbs?

what if we watched a bird alight on a pine bough, fluff its feathers to keep out the chill?

what if we made of today a day fitting for thanks that could not be stuffed in yesterday’s golden-breast bird?

what if, one by one, we do what we can to reverse the flow of this river? what if we choose not to spend a whole dime, not on the madness at least? only on milk or on eggs.

what if, in a show of solidarity with the month that’s been twisted and torqued, we take today slow and full of grace?

at our house, it’s a hike in the woods. we’ve lined up our boots by the door. the man who i love insisted. we are steering as from the mall as we can. sometimes, it seems, you need to take a day by the neck, and tell it how to behave.

and today is the start of the end of the madness. maybe slowly, surely, we can build a sort of momentum.
maybe we can build a snowball of little ideas. maybe we can, one day at a time, stitch moments of grace into the hours. hold up a hand to at least some of the that’s-just-how-it’s-done. except when it’s not.

except when maybe shopping is not synonymous with the season. except when maybe one gift and maybe a stocking is all that we give to our children. except when we stop for a moment and say, hmm, do i really need a little wrapped box, or an envelope stuffed with some bills, to say thank you to all of the folk who haul away trash and drop off the mail, and drive all the buses and cook the school lunches?

what if we made sure to say thank you, deep, look-in-the-eye thank yous, and not just when the calendar said it was time to?

maybe it’s not so much what we don’t do. maybe it’s more what we do do.

maybe it’s lighting our way through the darkness. maybe it’s making a room in the inn of our hearts. maybe it’s getting up just a little bit earlier, for the sole purpose of sitting in quiet. maybe it’s practicing how to say no. maybe it’s claiming saturday afternoon as time for a walk in the woods. maybe it’s reading a story a night. maybe it’s dinner with candlelight only.

and maybe it starts with today, a day now reserved for no commerce. a day to be quiet all day. a day to linger at the table. eat leftovers, for crying out loud.

a day to intentionally remove yourself from the ways of the world that slaps early-bird stickers on top of the news.

a day to say, no i will not leap from my bed at ungodly hours, not to drive to the mall, not to sate a hunger that cannot be filled by after-turkey-day sales.

a day to sift through the sacred hours and drink in the start of a season that, if we so choose, can come at us softly, purely, without all the noise that we’ve gotten too used to.

hmm. what ideas might you birth in a season of trying to be hushed? what might we do here to try to take back the month of december? it’s wobbly, and a bit odd, to try to reverse the flow of a river, but if we don’t fumble we’re stuck with the world as it is….anyone with a sure steady hand here?