Cusp of the Old Year…

The Cusp of the Old Year

Today is Christmas Eve. In some ways, I still feel the way I did as a child in the 1950’s, in awe of this season of transformation, and in other ways I have learned to savor this time in terms of looking at the past, enjoying its recollections, and then letting go too.    It is certainly a time for personal and family traditions that help to anchor us in an ever-changing, increasingly impersonal world of electronics that promises us speed and human connection but which at last gives us still more distance between us and others, and a shallow, abbreviated text message of what we once loved, like a sumptuous meal condensed into some flavorless capsule.  All the more reason to cherish a time of year when, for reasons that transcend both religion and commercialism, we confront an emotional reality based upon everything we have been and everything we would like to become.
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Think of that holiday card you have received from an old friend from whom you haven’t heard in a long time, the signature alone summoning happy memories of times gone by.  That occurrence is most common at this time of year, because we have almost a collective acceptance of genuine sentiment, which many are too embarrassed to allow during any other season.  There is still something childlike and innocent about this time of year that takes us back to a naive but heartfelt joy in being with those we love and remembering those who are gone.  Zuzu’s petals (IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE), And Rosebud (Citizen Kane) are such powerful symbols of what we once saw and valued so clearly as children.  Maybe that’s why children are still at the hub of all that is Christmas, from the Christ child in his manger crib, to the face of a child on Christmas morning opening his first gift.  Everything about this season says, “Hey!  It’s OK.  Go ahead and feel deeply.  Forgive those who have treated you badly and don’t be afraid to show unbridled kindness and generosity to those you love.”  We, like Ebenezer Scrooge, can be transformed as at no other time of the year.  We can become more appreciative of what we have and of what we can give.  It’s a miraculous time.
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For us adults at this time of year there is a strong feeling of time passing, as the clock ticks toward January first, when we let go of our sentimental views of past days (at least for a while) and replace our memories with hopes of better and more productive days that lie ahead, doing better at work, losing a few pounds through sheer will power, cleaning that hall closet, writing to those old friends we haven’t heard from for a long time.  We find a new chance to do well and to accomplish goals, however small.

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to let the season enfold you or to allow yourself to enfold it.  The rewards are incalculable.

 
JB

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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