far from the madding crowd
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?
may i add a very big AMEN…
4am wow! don’t think folks got started til 5am over here, life’s a little slower… Now ole Max was ready for action around 5a, but not for the mall, he just wanted to get into the woods to listen for the hooting of the owls and partake of his morning rituals.I’ve sort of participated in Buy Nothing Day for years now. I recall at least a few pints of craft beer have been purchased (many a fine craft brewer starts to roll out the seasonal offerings this time of year, it would be wrong to wait an extra day), but certainly no trips to the mall for me! I figure supporting craft/artisanal producers is in keeping with the spirit of the Buy Nothing Movement.Again this year I’ll bend the rules, but only just a wee bit, a walk to the local non-chain market for some egg noodles (and maybe see if they’ve got Fritz Maytag’s newest Holiday Ale); will pay cash to keep the credit industry unaware and my little transgression out of the end of black friday summation.Like Ed Abbey, I guess I’m a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic!
I, too join the chorus of ‘AMEN’ as I sit here, the clock nearing noon and I still in my pajamas.My poor teenaged daughter, however, had to haul her frame out of her warm and cozy covers at 3:45 AM as one of the unfortunate ones who had to greet the mad dash at the door at 5AM (Sears) … frantic shoppers hoping to get their hands on the deals to be had for those who braved the wee hours.Not me … if the crowds are in line at 4 AM this year, what’s in store for next year? 3AM? Are people insane? Let’s be real … stores will be holding sales from now until 6PM Christmas Eve. And … what are we teaching our children? The blessed meaning of the Season is lost in the pushing and shoving of saving a few dollars. Boy, are we suckers.Excuse me while I go warm up some leftover stuffing … the coffee is on for anyone who wants to join me.
I’m a little desperate for a coat around here: winter seems to have snuck up all at once and I in my mere polartec. Yesterday I mentioned that I might want to take a quick run to Sears to check things out the next day. This stopped conversation. Everyone looked at me. My father in law said, you know…. it’s Black Friday, right? I don’t think you really want to do that? Actually I don’t, I have no interest in it whatsoever, and I too like to buy nothing at all this day. But what if a gal actually wants or sort of more or less needs something on this dread day of days? I read in the letters to the editor in the paper, someone saying they were grateful that stores didn’t start pitching Christmas toll October. However in Macy’s they had all their Christmas paraphernalia up in September, just in time for back-to-school I guess. It is a little stupid. I too wonder when the backwards time creep will stop, and I think before long the after-Thanksgiving sales will just start on Thanksgiving. I won’t be shopping then either….