Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wisdom We Lose

We used to try to get away to someplace warm and sunny during this week, but it's enough that our daughter is home from college. So instead we're sleeping in, going to the movies, and generally just being together.

The winter break has fallen perfectly into the calendar this year, giving us more than two weeks off, with the big days right in the middle. I mentioned in a previous post that our family has been hand making most of our holiday gifts for the past 20 or so years, but that didn't mean there wasn't shopping to do. My idea this year was to hollow out wine corks and plant tiny succulents in them, then glue magnets on them for use on the fridge or wherever. There was a trip to the Indoor Sun Shop, a craft store, and an entirely necessary visit to my local hardware store where I bought nothing, but figured out how to hollow out those corks while chatting with the store owner -- that's right, locally-owned hardware stores still exist in the hearts of cities.

These were my holiday gifts, clumped together on our toaster

I got started on Thursday morning. Since we live downtown most of my shopping was on foot which meant I didn't have to deal with driving or parking, although I did take one quick trip on the number 40 to retrieve a fistful of corks from our school's supply. I knew that both Christmas Eve and the first day of Hanukah were on Saturday, but somehow I'd been operating all week as if it was a day earlier, so I awoke on Friday with absolutely nothing to do, a true holiday.

After cooking breakfast for my girl, I left the women together to focus on their joint craft project while I did one of the things I most love: wander the city. Downtown was thronged as it ought to be every day of the year, but especially two days before Christmas. There are those who prefer to be "far from the madding crowd," and I get it. If you have an agenda, the other people get in your way, but that's as true on suburban streets and malls as it is on downtown sidewalks, and honestly, I'd much rather be navigating on my own two feet than stuck behind the wheel of a car.

And when I don't have an agenda, or rather when the agenda is simply being amongst my fellow humans, it's glorious. I paced myself according to the bustling flow of humanity, not ducking and dodging, not hurrying, but being together with them all. There were expressions of holiday joy everywhere -- laughter, singing, and gay apparel -- but there were some, those with agendas I expect, who were crabby, sniping at their companions. I wanted to put an arm around them and say, "It's okay" or "Who cares?"

Perhaps agendas are a necessary condition of adulthood. It's why we recall our own childhoods so fondly, I think, and why we want to make the holidays magical for the kids, because they're actually capable of appreciating it. Children have agendas, of course, but the younger they are, the more readily they're able to set them aside and simply experience the joy.

We think of life as a process of gaining wisdom, but this is an example of the wisdom we lose unless we make an effort to retain it. And now I'm heading out into the world with no plan whatsoever.

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