Seasonal reasonable prompts
November 27, 2015
It’s gonna get noisy. You remember how this goes. Leftover turkey bones are simmering on the stove and already there are ads and invites and urgings to "CELEBRATE THE SEASON!"
In a ski resort community, "The Season" is actually long — it lasts until March or April depending upon conditions. The first holiday season started Thursday and runs until sometime after Jan. 1. That’s until Sundance starts, which is a different kind of season, followed by Valentine’s and President’s week/weekend. And St. Paddy’s and then Easter and Passover and suddenly spring.
Let’s just focus on the next few weeks — the gift giving/New Year’s parts. It can get exhausting and sad and competitive and expensive and lonely, along with joyful and gratifying and warm and cozy and filled with memories of holidays and people passed. Ever so complicated. Treacherous. Slippery slopes that are covered in more than snow.
Right now, before it all fully starts, come up with a list of tiny things you will do to find islands of sanity in the days ahead. And meaningful ways to connect. And a bit of quiet — most precious of all, in the jingle belling and cash register ringing and horn honking and all the noise, noise, noise.
Religion is fluid, as the kids like to say about so many things now. You have your value system and I have mine and with any luck they both include a core belief in the Golden Rule. Which should be enough. We chose different ways to celebrate as the darkness comes and lasts longer than any other day all year long and then, just like that, we head to the light. Solstice and seasons. Reasons to recalibrate and make small plans consistently which add up to the big stuff. Every time.
I have a few go-to tricks I try to remember to make time for during the next few weeks when I forget (and I do forget) how lucky I am to live here and have this life. Getting out in nature is always at the top of the list, but it serves me best when it is alone. Not on trails where there are competitive folks running, skiing past, somehow racing past. But those places where few go, the quiet trail, Rotary Park, or a long drive out in the county, over Brown’s Canyon into Oakley or Kamas or Francis where time is still a bit slower, more extended. Quieter. Churches aren’t the only places of worship.
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The whole meaningful gift giving is almost an oxymoron just by putting it in a sentence. But we try. We want to express how important someone is in our world and search for the perfect thing to give. We know in our hearts it is never a thing that lasts, as lovely as the book, teacup, sweater, or bottle of beverage is. We know it is always the relationship, the making time to listen, to hug, to share something on some random day in May with no religious meaning that does bring us closer to a loving god.
The best gifts I have ever received are letters — from my children, from friends, from people I knew only faintly. Those take time to create. I try each year to write a handful of letters of my own. And I choose lovely paper and write with a fountain pen and I put on classical music and pour myself a toddy and I try to say something in my heart.
My favorite holiday tradition is tipping. Not just a little bit but once, maybe twice, an outrageous (relative to the bill) sum. I do this in a place where the tips are usually thin and few — a diner or lunch spot. I tip the full price of whatever I have eaten. So the $10 breakfast gets a $10 tip, in cash. I know in a town like this that doesn’t seem like much to do. But I can assure you it changes the day of the server. More than once I have had a server chase me down and insist I had left too much. And I assure them I did not.
Those who serve the public — which is lots of us in some fashion in a resort town — need to remember we have no idea what kind of day our guest is having. What news they have been delivered, what health crisis they are struggling with, or that their heart/spirit is broken for any number of reasons. And how it is masked, can be a grumpy person, for no apparent reason. Do more for them. Part of the reason for the season is to connect on a deeper level with each other. Do not expect results.
Let yourself be filled with wonder. When the snow is falling get outside and stick your tongue out. Laugh when the birds scatter as you approach the feeder and whisper them thanks. Walk into a place of worship in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week and just let the light stream through the windows and let the quiet surround you. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, throw on a jacket and walk outside on your street, which with any luck will be quiet in the way only a snow-covered street can be. Maybe there will be a moon. Or winter constellations to try and identify. Feeling small, really small in nature, allows us to process the big stuff.
Unplugging and connecting with humans in thoughtful ways can start any time, on any day, like this very Sunday in The Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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