Celebrating the ordinary

Posted: Sunday, March 28, 2010

There's a Christmas story about a little girl who wishes it would be Christmas every day. Her wish comes true, but after a few days of eating huge feasts over and over again, getting presents over and over again, and wearing elaborate party dresses each and every day, she realizes that what makes a holiday so much fun is that it is special.

She also realizes that we need the rhythms and the joys of everyday life to celebrate the heightened delight those special days are meant to give.

I thought about that story on Feb. 15, the day after Valentine's Day. I walked into my favorite restaurant, which looked like the decoration gnomes had gone into high speed, taking down all the red hearts and trimmings and immediately replacing them with St. Patrick Day shamrocks and all manner of wearin' o' the green. But St. Patrick's Day was a month away!

I still had candy hearts to eat, but everything around me screamed that it was time for corned beef and green beer. By the time St. Paddy's rolled around, it wasn't special. It had been used up. And when the clock chimed midnight, the decoration gnomes bustled into the restaurant to deck it out with Easter eggs and bunnies, so that we wouldn't miss a millisecond of holiday cheer.

No wonder so many people feel hurried, rushed, harassed, behind and begrudging when all we do is leapfrog from holiday to holiday. We miss the gift of the everyday and the ordinary. We miss the anticipation of celebration. We are tired of a holiday days and weeks before it finally arrives. It feels we are being pushed into the next big thing, without a moment to enjoy or reflect on the celebration that has just come and gone.

There is so much wonder and delight in the ordinary, so much to celebrate in the everyday, when we allow a day to be a day, not just a countdown to the next holiday. Skies decorated with patches of blue peeking through the grey clouds. Parades of ravens waddling across a parking lot or the magic of harbor seals vanishing underwater to emerge only who-knows-where. The gift of a handwritten card or letter, with a real stamp, arriving in the mail. Feasts of halibut or deer from our own freezers.

When we celebrate and appreciate these regular days, they renew us and quiet us. They give us space to breathe, to relax, to be.

I'm glad for holidays, but like the little girl of the story, I have realized I don't want or need them every day. Turns out "everyday" is pretty much good enough for every day.

• The Rev. Sue Bahleda is pastor of Resurrection Lutheran Church.

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