This is such a great week, the week in between Christmas/ Hanukkah and New Year’s. In between two of the biggest holidays of the year. In between years. In between family and friends gathering to celebrate, bookended by memories and expectations old and new.
These are part of the halcyon days. The halcyon was a mythical sea bird whose arrival heralded 14 days of calmed seas around the time it was nesting and hatching its eggs. These magical two weeks of tranquil weather came roughly on either side of the winter solstice – which occurred on December 21st.
Today, halcyon days are associated with the sweet, lazy days of youthful summer. But I prefer to think of these original winter halcyon days as the time for quiet repose and reflection. Granted, we don’t have young children in the house, so we aren’t distracted by pre-Christmas energy and high expectations. We also don’t usually (especially this year) have the busyness of a tree and tinsel and poinsettias and packages.
What we do have is the luxury of enjoying this time in a beautiful home with a sweet car full of memories provided by generous friends. Friends old and new come over to play. We spend good hours with family, watching dance performances and eating pie. We drive through the streets looking at Christmas lights, marveling at the amount of work they take to set up and (we assume) take down. We shop and stand in line with no more urgent agenda than to smile at others we meet.
And so, our halcyon days this year are even more charmed with relaxation and reflection.
We are also “in between” – both personally and as a world – as we face enormous change. Personally, we have said goodbye to a home and a lifestyle we loved, but it was time. We look forward to settling into our new part-time home in Italy and filling it with “us.” Deborah said goodbye to a career that helped center and grow businesses small and large, losing an anchor to part of her definition of self. She looks forward to growing her self. Tim is glad to be past a year filled with health (and ladder) challenges, marauding goats and hungry coyotes, and machinery that refused to fix itself. He looks forward to the art of making art.
Perhaps these halcyon days will provide an opportunity for our nation’s new leaders – and those of other countries – to reflect on what they have inherited and how quickly that might dissolve. Otherwise, we fear what rough seas may lie ahead.
Like many people, I always spend a few hours during this time setting goals for the coming year. I divide the list into categories – financial, farm, professional, personal, and spiritual. Actually, my list hasn’t changed much in the 15 or 20 years I’ve been doing them – be nice to people, lose weight, etc. But it is awesome to see what goals I have accomplished (no, not lose weight). Enjoying a little sense of accomplishment is a very “in between” activity in my book.
So, during these halcyon “in between” days, spending some introspective time picturing the year ahead is exactly what the halcyon bird did. And the seas quieted, and the winds slowed, and the days were ones of quiet anticipation and new birth. Sounds good to me!