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Holy Days


There is no other time than now. All you remember was now then, and everything you’ll experience is incipient. “I’ll do it later” means you’re not doing it now. Why wait?

Take writing final pre-Christmas columns. They are often reruns. You wish readers “peace on earth, goodwill to men,” add “Happy New Year to you and your family” and be done with it. No strings nor checks attached.

Columns are opportunities to write something new and burdens to fill space beneath your byline. Add another shot to your eggnog, delight in kids’ wonder about the holidays, wonder where yours went and wait for shopping bills to roll in.

Few write what the holidays are really about for many adults: depression and compensation. No one knows what date Jesus was born, but we’ve known since antiquity when the sun rises latest and sets the earliest. Early Christians hopped on pagan celebrations of light’s return to make it a metaphor for Christ’s birth.

So why we are prone to post-holiday depression? Aren’t days getting longer? My take: compensation. Clans un-gather and go back to real life, long, cold nights lie ahead and the stuff you got doesn’t free you, just ties you down more.

Some can summon a childlike wonder. Others might have learned long ago not to unduly inflate our spirits. Do we need that cycle — rise, be deflated again, rinse, repeat — to remind us we’re truly living?

We eat chocolate, buy clothes, go on crime sprees to curb depression. I look for lenses. My long telephotos inspire lens envy, risqué jokes and empty-wallet syndrome. Once you start getting them, you want more.

The universe waits. Soon the time will be now the world’s largest telescopes yet will be able to see distant planets, stars being formed, and light-years-ago events from soon after the Big Bang birthed the cosmos.

Preparation is underway on a Chilean mountain peak, picked for its absence of light pollution, on the world’s largest telescope, or lens, yet. It will be 135 feet in diameter and boast 133 mirror segments fitting together to create an aperture as big as two side-by-side basketball courts. Its capacity to gather light will be 500 times greater than the Mt. Palomar telescope.

“I want one for Christmas,” I told my wife.

“Amazon doesn’t have them.”

“When they’re ready,” I said, not mentioning that may have to wait until somebody coughs up its $2-billion price tag.

Sunset and lighthouse pictures are visual versions of rerun columns. After these clichés come the ceremonial giant check — erasable, so you can fill in new names and numbers — used by the Saugatuck-Douglas Rotary Club to publicize its donations to worthy causes.

Cow Hill Yacht Club, West Shore Aware, Santa’s Elves … many more local groups are generous. Every day is a holiday when there are checks attached to your greetings. If staged, static pictures encourage good deeds, I am glad to take them.

Still, why not depict the dynamic actions — local high school students building a new school for poor sugarcane workers, hungry families being fed … — these gifts enable?

Picture me with my lusted-for lens at a Rotary luncheon, lining up givers and receivers de jour again holding that check. “Come outside,” I’d tell them. “I can’t fit my lens in the door. Can you stand back a light year or two?” Two billion for a lens that’s not practical, plus by the time I got back to Spectators Sports Bar and Grill, my potato boats would be cold.

Now’s the time to end this. We can look to the far corners of the universe (It has corners?) to distract us from seeing what is in us all.

Why cede our sense of wonder turning the holidays into reruns? Every day is as holy as we can make it, now and new.