Monday, January 09, 2023

Time and stuff

 I had to pick up something from Lowe's for a meeting tonight, and I thought as I drove out there after class: well, also, if they have any winter/Valentine's day stuff out, like wreaths or those little flags or a doormat, maybe you get one of those for yourself, too.

I do that more now. In the before times, yes, I did have some different seasonal wreaths I put up, but starting in mid-2020, I found myself wanting to do more things to mark whatever season it was - icy looking stuff or snowflakes for January, Valentine's Day stuff, green for St. Patrick's Day, the more-secular bunnies-and-eggs stuff for Easter (I do have a little flag for the yard stake with a cross and "He is Risen" on it). 

And I realized: wanting to celebrate the more minor holidays, the ones I don't travel for or that don't have special meals or gifts or things, that's kind of new. 

But I think that did develop during the pandemic. 

At first, as I was thinking about it, I thought: well, maybe this is like how you enjoy liturgical time and find comfort in the cycle of the seasons in the church. But actually, now I think it's different, because the "holiday seasons" and "liturgical time" are different in a way.

In the past, I found liturgical time comforting because it's a regular round. No matter how chaotic the outside world gets, no matter how many upsetting changes there are, there is always the idea that "once Epiphany is past, then it's Ordinary Time. And then it's Lent, then Easter, and Easter continues until Pentecost, and then it's back to Ordinary Time until it's Advent* and then it is Christmas again...."

(*and the official end of the church year is Christ the King Sunday, right before Advent starts)

And the idea of that eternal and unchanging round, no matter what was happening in the world, was comforting. It was stability. It was knowing where you were, even just the simple things like what color parament was on the pulpit and lectern....

But doing things for the more "secular" holidays, I think that's different - in fact, in a way, it's the opposite. Instead of "this is an unchanging thing in a chaotic world," I think I started doing things to mark the different minor holidays because it reminded me that time WAS passing. That it wasn't an eternal now, a Groundhog Day existence where nothing ever changed or advanced and that I was living the same day over and over again in some kind of weird purgatory. Being able to, for example, exchange the Valentine's Day wreath for the St. Patrick's Day one sometime in late February reminded me time was passing, and it was a small thing to do that was different. 

That also may have been a reason why I ordered so much stuff I really didn't need online during those times - that maybe having something coming in the mail was a change, was something different in an unchanging string of days. 

Things have gotten *some* better - I feel like I can go out more freely and do things - but I still keep the "do a few small decorations for each season" because it does make life feel like it's not the same day over and over and over again, to the point where, a few times in 2021, I had to stop in class and think hard: now is this fall or spring semester again?

But yes: I find my life often lacks a bit of novelty these days, and that sometimes makes it hard. And yet, at the same time, the chaos in the outside world is upsetting and I like the stability of a regular round of things, of things that are recognizable...

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