With time to spare, I sit pondering the subject of this week’s blog. Just like I do not usually know exactly what I will say until I begin a speech, I usually do not know the subject of my weekly blog until right before I begin to write. Neither of these is because I am unprepared; I usually overprepare. It is because I want both to be as timely as possible, so I allow for the events and insights of the moment to lead me to the message I am meant to deliver.
As I ponder, I am reminded of the gift of time, and how rare it is to have time to ponder, to just think. Most of us are so busy, rarely slowing down to think about how we spend our time. Perhaps this is a subject worthy of this blog as we enter the busiest season of the year during a pandemic.
My mind is wandering all around, thinking about the value of time, and how we spend it. I think of two groups of friends and times we spend together, just visiting, eating, and playing. Playing includes sunning, boating, and other lake and beach activities. We do not watch TV, other than when it rained the entire weekend at the lake recently with one of our groups of friends! We mainly just talk, catching up on each other’s lives even more than world events. I am so appreciative of the time our hosts spend preparing for our times together, and the gift of time we all give each other to come together for these, leaving all other priorities behind to do so. I think friends who spend time together like this are rare, and so valuable. Then, of course, there is the valuable time that we spend with family.
Christmas decorating requires a lot of time, and each year I wonder if it is worth it for the two to three weeks that we are able to enjoy the efforts of the time spent. I question if it is worth it until the decorating is done, and then I do not question its value at all! Each year is a new decision, however, and since I haven’t yet decorated for this season, I am not making any promises. Through the years I have gradually reduced the amount of decorating that I do. We still have live trees. Each year I revisit the live trees decision, and probably will this year as well since I haven’t begun the process.
Although I love how our home looks all decorated for Christmas, and I am glad I made the effort once it is done, is this really how I want to spend this time? Time spent can never be recovered. I am less sure this year than any other year. I will let you know my decision next week, for if the decorating is to be done, it must be finished by then. While writing this, not really trying to listen to the conversation of others, I hear a woman near me telling someone on the phone that she is not decorating for Christmas this year, that she has too much going on to do so! Touché!
There is also the time it takes to select and purchase Christmas gifts. Some people no longer give gifts for various reasons, and not (just) because of the time it takes to do so. One of the reasons is that some people are concerned about our excess consumption. The type of gift giving has also changed. For many people, gift cards have replaced gifts, and not even gift cards to a special store. I am not implying that gift cards are a problem, but that it doesn’t take much time to purchase them. Money is also given by some, and (I assume) appreciated by the recipients. Again, there is not much time required for this gift. But if one takes time to determine just the right gift for someone, whether the time is spent in physical stores or online, it does take time. Not to mention the time spent by the recipient returning gifts when the gift does not fit or is returned for other reasons. When I think of this, perhaps gift cards or money are the right approach, for they take less time for both the buyer and the recipient! If the gift, whatever it is, is given with a giver’s heart, in the true spirit of giving, the method of delivery or the specific gift do not matter much. It is time well spent.
This subject of the value of time could cover many other aspects of the use of time, but that would take too much of your time to read! Let’s just acknowledge that however we spend our time, we should do so thoughtfully, with full knowledge that time spent is never recovered.
May your holidays, be they Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, be filled with meaning and joy, and may we all stay healthy, with masks and social distancing, until we are able to return to our (new) normal.