When it stops


A quiet grey day in Saint Paul rustles slowly as the kids and animals laze deep into the morning. There’s no reason to get up early – no obligations, nowhere to be, no sun calling. The holiday has started on its own time, creeping into our lives without much fuss and fanfare because that’s how it comes. The holiday starts when everything else stops.

It doesn’t look much like Christmas this year in Saint Paul. Hardly any snow has marked the passage of time into the winter, and the brown ground quivers only with the occasional flick of a pudgy grey squirrel tail. It doesn’t feel much like Christmas, either, with the holiday falling on a Sunday and the usual Christmas Eve vacation not cutting everyone loose on the same schedule. Not until tonight can anyone be sure that their friends and family are truly done, ready to let the holiday come into their lives.

This sneaking Christmas seems to fit 2011, a year when many people did their best to just get by. Here in the US it seems like little got done all year long. The economy puttered along, gradually making some headway. Congress lurched from one crisis to the next, the false excitement gradually giving way to disgust and eventually resignation. Yet we made it this far and things may actually be getting a bit better, if slowly.

That wasn’t the case through the rest of the world. While we appeared to be sleeping in through the dull recovery everyone else seemed wide awake. Nations such as Tunisia and Egypt cast off their old dictatorships, and Syria appears to have erupted into civil war. While we sleep the rest of the world is waking up, getting ready for their own time yet to come.

Here one day has dragged into the other for the most part, arriving at the Christmas brown and spent. Some of us trudge through one more day or so, but we know that the days of rest and gathering are nearly here. It’ll come to us when we finally grind to a stop.

It doesn’t seem to make for much of a holiday when every day merges colorless into all the others. But it doesn’t have to be that way, of course. Holidays are always more about what we have inside of us. The bright green garland, red bows, and brilliant lights are a reflection of how we feel as we let a bit of hope and gratitude into our hearts. It sparkles out brightest in the eyes of the kids, gradually making all our lives brighter. But we only get to realize what it means when we have nothing else to think about and nothing new to organize, buy, or hang.

Christmas comes when we finally stop.

It may not seem like much of a holiday at that moment, but like any good day it comes from within. When everything stops the potential for action is what the mind makes of it, even if that’s nothing more than the joy of reflection.

May Christmas come to you and yours, and may you feel the moment it all stops deep in your heart so that you can enjoy it completely.