“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
(image of the Nandina bush in the front yard / Julie Cook/ 2013)
It is most usually a positive state of life… be it the giddy excitement leading up to a vacation or trip of a lifetime, the welcomed relief of a loved one’s long awaited homecoming, the expectant arrival date of the birth of a child, or even the sweet relief to the end of a school term…all are looked upon with a delightful sense of expectancy, joy, and the visualization of something most exciting and / or pleasurable which is about to take place. It’s what gets us over the humps and through the low doldrums of life.
Of course we can counter the positive anticipation by coupling it with a sense of dread, worry or foreboding— as in the stressful prepping before a major test, the nervous waiting for a required surgery, an isolating time of servitude, or the poignant end of something most special.
Either way, the anticipation aspect of any event is 9 times out of 10 the most potent component of any situation— with the actual event taking a bit of a backseat to any sort of “lead up” time.
How many times, as children, were we overtly full of such rapt anticipation, awaiting Christmas and the visit of Santa, that we were beside ourselves with energy, delight, agitation and sensory overload?! It was as if by the time Christmas morning finally rolled around, we felt somewhat let down, disappointed or either our eyes were so glazed over from the anticipatory overload that we found it difficult to maintain the exhilarating high we’d been riding since Thanksgiving.
Our western culture seems to have mastered the art of anticipation—as you are no doubt hearing Carly Simon singing her most notable song in your head as you visualize ketchup slowly making its way from bottle to bun…anticipation sadly or joyously drives our economy.
For my generation it was the arrival of the 4 inch thick Sears catalog. I would spend hours eagerly marking page after page, item after item, for mom and dad, and of course Santa, to fill my hopes and dreams. For today’s kids, it is a true sensory overload as they absorb larger than life, high definition, clear images on their 50 inch plasma interactive televisions of the latest gadgets and gizmos, jewelry and designer this and that which they must receive in order for their lives to, sadly, be complete.
Times Square screams such with it’s constantly moving, undulating, bigger than life, ever-changing advertisements… as the same can be said world wide from Tokyo to Hong Kong, to London to Pairs—bright lights, bright colors, big, large, giant images and pulsating sounds of which are all intended to hypnotize us into a glazed trance of believing that we must have, be a part of, or become these glamours images in order to reach our individual utopias as we are dressed and sporting everything the same as the person next to us…hummmm
I say all of this with a bit of reflection. It was the other Sunday evening when I accompanied my poor husband, who owns a small business in our community and who has spent his entire life in retail, as he went to check his store—just as he does each Sunday evening, the only day the business is thankfully closed.
As we made our way back to his truck, having completed the week’s deposit, in the darkened nearly empty parking lot, we couldn’t help but notice a small bevy of vehicles parked just outside of Bath and Body Works. It was well after store hours as all the other businesses were dark and shuttered for the night. There were a dozen or so employees busily decorating the store for, what else, Christmas. It was November 3rd.
My husband let out a long heavy sigh. “I can never remember a single Christmas or Thanksgiving that I have ever really enjoyed” he sadly lamented. I’ve been married to him now going on 31 years— I know this. He is 64 years old and from the earliest time of memory he has spent the “holidays” wrapped up in his family’s business giving way now to his own business. It is indeed a love / hate relationship which sees owners and employees moving momentum from one holiday to the next, riding the perpetual holiday wave as it were.
The hours, the time, the energy, the demands, year after year, have grown exponentially. Way back when, back in a vastly different time in this country, businesses closed at noon on both Wednesdays and Saturdays with all businesses being closed on Sunday. Slowly that has all changed. Businesses, if they expect to stay competitive or just viable are open 7 days a week at least 12 hours a day. Add to those hours during the Holidays.
Black Friday does not signal Christmas, a time of our Holy anticipation, that of the Advent leading to the birth of a Savior, but rather it is the marking of a feeding frenzy. A need to feed an unquenchable thirst and hunger of and for consumerism which gives way to our obsession with materialism. It has nothing to do with what Christmas, or even Hanukkah, is actually all about but rather it has everything to do with our economy and the need to feed it.
My daughter-n-law “to be” lamented this morning that her cherished pumpkin lattes from Dunkin Doughnuts are on the last call list as they are making way for the Christmas flavors. It is November 5th. I thought Pumpkins and Spice were the sights and scents of November… as in Thanksgiving, as in the end of the month, not the beginning of the month. Weren’t we just trick or treating last week?
A dear friend of mine in Florence, Italy, whose family has had a business in that most magical and historical city for almost 150 years, was recently lamenting that the Ministry of Commerce and the governing officials there in the city of Florence are pressuring all businesses to stay open 7 days a week, 365 days a year and to forego the siesta hours of closing for lunch. An entrenched way of life and of a culture being told to change to meet the growing and insatiable appetites of a hungry consumer driven populace.
I just wish things were different. I wish we could all just slow down, savoring the time and seasons of our lives..relishing life rather than the empty things that we hope to gobble up in order to fill it all full…
Just like Pooh in today’s quote–the eating of honey is really wonderful but it’s the time, the magical time, leading up to the actual eating that seems even more sweet… Here is to the sweet anticipation to all of those magical moments in your life. . .make time to enjoy every moment.