The last gift I receive this season may be an ill-fitting storm. I knew I was going to get it for I had been warned. It began early Christmas day with a light rain. Normally, I would expect snow this time of year, but with the temperatures being as they were (about sixty degrees warmer than the previous Sunday) it had to be rain.
The rain was steady throughout the day becoming heavier as the darkness descended. There had been talk of a flooding risk in the valley, as the frozen ground would not admit the rain and melting snow.
Strong winds joined the storm to drive the rain against the windows. As I fell into bed I knew I would have a fitful night of sleep for, “...when the wind blows the cradle will rock, when the bough breaks the cradle will fall…” I wondered how many trees would remain upright in the stand behind the barn as the wind thinned the thicket; I imagined finding many of their remains in that copse.
Long ago I gave up timing my trimming with the calendar, for when I asked my dad about the best time to trim a tree, he responded, “the wind doesn’t care.” I had plans to do my own cutting and felling in the New Year; in fact, you could say I had resolved to do it.
Now that the ghost of Christmas present has joined the past, we begin to look at the coming year with all its promise. We resolve to lose weight, promise to eat healthier, pledge to exercise more, plan to be kinder, intend to read more, decide to write more, commit to pray more, aim to be a better friend.
My correspondence is in need of some attention. My running shoes are gathering dust. My brother’s albums need to be cleaned and played, and there are books that have much to tell me.
The first of the year seems to be the perfect time to start over. The calendar is clear, the way is certain and our resolve is strengthened. However, if I waited until January 1st of every year to improve myself (versus trying to improve others) I would have significantly fewer opportunities to do so than other pivotal moments.
For instance, the first of every month is a wonderful time to begin a new project, but other than a marked thirty days (give or take) ahead of you, is it really any better than the following Monday to begin anew? Perhaps we can also agree that tomorrow is a good day to start over with a new direction. But why wait until tomorrow?
My family likes to plays games (not the Joe South type), and what we always find is that win or lose you get to start over fresh, immediately if you like.
The wind blows and the rain falls. The storm did for me what I had not done for myself – it trimmed the trees. But as for my other resolutions, there is no time like the present.