Do you remember?
With Christmas only a few days away, I’ve been thinking back to sticky summer days filled with city streets and skinned knees.
If you grew up in the era of playing hide-and-go-seek in the streets until it grew dark enough to catch lightning bugs in old mayonnaise jars with a couple of holes poked in the lid, you will remember the power of calling “time out.”
Whenever you needed a moment to tie your shoe or catch your breath or find out why your parents were calling your name, all you had to do was put your hands together in a “T” and shout, “Time out!”
By taking these simple steps, you invoked the mystical power of the “time-out.” Time instantly froze for you. Within its protective cover, you could take as much time as you needed to regroup. Everyone respected it. No one asked why you needed it, and no one kicked you out of the game for taking it. Unless you blatantly abused the privilege by repeatedly using “time-outs” to get out of being tagged “it,” your friends would not question your decision. In most cases, a “time-out” was honored by one and all, no questions asked.
Calling “time-out”worked great when we were 10.
These days, not so much.
It seems that everyone has forgotten about the power of a “time-out.” It has become a lost art, a mythical legend of old. Like unicorns and fairies and elves.
We’ve outgrown “time-outs”like we’ve outgrown so many other things that used to color our days with wonder and joy. It makes me wonder why any of us bothered to grow up at all.
We were so much wiser when we were 10.
I need those “time-outs”more now than ever, yet I feel too grown up to take one. I have this nagging fear that all of my old childhood friends, who wouldn’t have batted an eye at my calling “time out” on the streets of my old neighborhood, would only gasp and whisper among themselves if I were to admit I needed a break from the hectic pace of the game we are all rushing around so frantically to play.
But I don’t think I have anything to worry about.
I think most of us would be relieved to discover “time-outs” actually still exist, especially in these last crazy days before Christmas.
So here goes nothing.
I will not let the wonder of this season pass me by in a whirlwind of concerts, parties, gifts, and home-baked goodies. I will take time to fully experience every single minute. I will hold my husband’s hand while we watch our favorite Christmas movies. I will sip hot chocolate and listen to my children tell me what they hope to get this year. I will listen to the sound of my parents’ laughter that has filled my years with warm memories and everything I’ve ever needed.
I will forgive myself in advance for buying the wrong size, spending too much, buying too little, burning the cookies, under cooking the potatoes, for not sending Christmas cards, and for the hot chocolate stain on my living room carpet.
I will stop everything around me long enough to tie my shoe, catch my breath, and find out why my kids are calling my name.
I think I could get used to this.