Story last updated at 12/2/2009 - 12:13 pm
I took advantage of the brief appearance of the sun at noon on Monday to eat lunch outside on the docks. There aren't a lot of moments for quiet reflection outside this time of year when you don't have to be moving vigorously to stay warm. But no sooner had I opened my lunch than a dozen ravens flocked around me, each one periodically squawking out what must have been the equivalent of, "You gonna finish that?"
I like ravens a lot, so I didn't mind the company. I even shared my leftovers. Still, walking away, I realized I'd gotten distracted by the commotion around me and hadn't had a chance to stare out at the water and contemplate what was on my mind.
It's a feeling I get a lot this time of year. It's natural to want to turn inward in the winter. Finally, we have plenty of darkness and cold weather to encourage us to huddle up inside with all the books we've been meaning to read, the letters we've been meaning to write, the knitting projects we've had on hold. And yet, the holiday season seems to be conspiring against us staying in alone at all.
Just compiling the Capital City Weekly community calendars this week was a little exhausting. We've got a full schedule in Juneau and many other Southeast towns in the coming weeks, including concerts, holiday plays and ballets, gallery walks, community markets - all of which are great opportunities to run into everyone you haven't seen all year. It's all so much fun it can be hard to stay home.
But sometimes it can become too much and we start to feel like we've gotten a little off track. Maybe we realize we're thinking too much about spending money on each other and what we want as gifts. Maybe we forget that this season doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. Maybe we get sucked into watching too many TV specials, eating too many cookies, drinking too much eggnog. If you feel overdosed on Christmas carols already, it might be time to take a step back from the hubbub.
It's easy to forget in the midst of the festivities that this time of year is very spiritual for many people. The "holiday season" begins with a day in which we give thanks, and ends with a day in which we take stock of the past year and prepare for the year to come. But in the midst of these bookends, we often lose sight of opportunities for reflection.
It's not that we're doing bad things - if anything, we're probably thinking of others more than ourselves. We're thinking of gifts we can buy or make for each other, friends and family members to send cards to, people to invite to holiday parties. We're making sure to go see our neighbor's kid in the Nutcracker and our coworker's art show at Gallery Walk. We're trying to remember to buy extra food for food drives when we go grocery shopping.
But if trying to do too many things means we end up overwhelmed and exhausted all month, we're going to miss out on the magic of this season.
So take a deep breath, go for a walk, and schedule some time to be alone each day this month if you can. Make time to reflect on what's important and gather some energy for when it's time to run out and spread holiday cheer.
Katie Spielberger is the managing editor of the Capital City Weekly. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.