Us humans have been an agricultural people a lot longer than we have been a shopping people.
Up until a generation or two ago, this time of year would naturally have been a time of quieting down and resting. The root cellar would be full. The canning would be done. The fields would sport a stubble of winter grass or simply lie fallow. We might have barn chores to do, but our daily work would not require the same amount of effort as during high summer or harvest time. The shorter days would mean more sleep or longer evenings by the fire. More rest of one sort or another.
Nowadays, no one and nothing supports us in a slow down effort, except maybe our animals.
The animals haven’t lost track of the natural order of things and know exactly what we are meant to be up to during this dark time of year.
We see how the animals enjoy this season of quiet, but we get cattle prodded by the world’s media to get out of our nice warm beds and get shopping.
From all I heard and read, no sooner were we to wash and dry the last Thanksgiving dish than we to join the throngs of people shopping from predawn to midnight on Black Friday.
My mind boggled at the idea of going to Kohl’s the day after Thanksgiving at 4 am to beat the 5 am rush. I truly feel like I am from a different planet a lot of the time. One where people are asleep at 4 am.
And being a hobbit/ luddite /curmugeon, I am doing everything I can to follow the animals’ example, instead of doing what the ads on TV are telling me to do.
The more messages I get to speed up and do more, the more I try to slow down. On these cold dark nights, after William finishes his homework, Jim reads aloud from our current read aloud book, “The Golden Compass.” If we get restless from inactivity, William and I crack pecans while Jim reads. There is lots of satisfaction in de-shelling pecans and it is just enough of an activity to keep my inner “do more” voice silent.
So, as I head into a weekend in which I will not be going to any mall, I send you my best hopes that you too are finding some peace and quiet during this time of darkness, and my best wishes that you too are finding some of the restorative stillness our agrarian ancestors had in such abundance and that our bodies and souls still crave.
If you are looking for moral support for slowing down, I have a few animals happy to advertise the pleasures of doing less. I am sure they will be very happy to give pointers to one and all about the virtue of naps. Come to think of it, there are some people about willing to advertise this as well.