Now is about the time of year my kids begin to ask, “how far away is Christmas?” Since we have finally passed the halfway mark of the year, things are starting to look up for them. Still, four months away is a long ways to go.
I get it. Asher’s birthday is the end of November and Pace’s the very beginning of March, so the Fall, Winter and beginning of Spring, feels jam packed full of presents and celebrations and activities to enjoy and look forward to.
And then there is this wide expanse of the rest of the year that feels empty and depressing.
I had the same feeling as a kid. Truthfully, sometimes I still do—as an adult. Maybe this kind of thinking is just a phenomenon in my gene pool. Or maybe everyone can relate to it one way or another. There’s something to be said for the certain times of year, where more happens, there’s more to look forward to, and things feel more meaningful. Even the Church calendar is laid out that way. There’s Advent and the days leading up to Christmas. There’s Lent and the days leading up to the Easter. There are celebratory days following Easter. And then there’s…nothing.
On the Church calendar there’s a phrase for those long and listless days not attached to any significant feast or holiday.
That’s it exactly. It’s perfectly ordinary. There isn’t much meaning attached to it. It just passes— without much fanfare or thought. It’s the no mans land, where you feel restless, aimless and sometimes purposelessness.
These are the seasons of life I’ve spent a lot of time dreading. Because somewhere along the way, I started believing ordinary is boring, and simply a necessary thing you slog your way through to the more thrilling Next Big Thing.
But then, something happened. After a particularly full season of life spent traveling more than our family ever had, living in what I anticipated to be an extraordinary time, experiencing the Next Big Thing, I started yearning for ordinary in a way I never had before.
See, I know that at 8am, every ordinary Saturday morning, one or two little tow-headed little boys will ever so carefully open the door to my room and tip toe to my side of the bed waiting to see if my eyes are open—and if they are, release the pent up energy hours of sleep have kept bottled up.
I know scattered on the floor of two ordinary bedrooms, are Legos and Star Wars figurines, capes and clothes, books and puzzles, and that on any given ordinary day I will step on one thing, stub my toe on another, help pick up the mess these things create, and be on a search committee to find the one missing thing absolutely necessary for life to keep going.
I know at some point during every ordinary afternoon, I will sit on the couch with a blanket stretched thin over three sets of legs, two boys curved in close to the crooks in my elbows, heads resting on my shoulders as we read adventures found in magic tree houses and enchanted wardrobes.
I know in the midst of my ordinary days it’s likely there will be tears, and certainly a time out or two.
There will resting, and there will be playing.
There will be imagining and there will be dreaming.
There will be cleaning and there will be instructing.
There will be eating and there will be clearing.
There will be reading and there will be watching.
There will be bathing and there will be brushing.
There will be praying and there will be singing.
And always, even in the most ordinary of days there is laughing. Giggling. Hilarity. Fits of uncontrollable howls.
And on the best days, if I’m lucky, I’ll realize just how unordinary it all is.
These are the ordinary days. Yes. The days I have often wished to go by faster so we could get closer to the next event, the next holiday, the next extraordinary moment, the next something to free me from what sometimes feels like a shackling now. But right before me is the extraordinary wrapped up so stealthily in ordinary, I nearly miss it—unless I slow down enough to catch it before it steals away before my very eyes.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld said, “The non event is the best part of life,”
He’s right. I think you get to a certain age in life, a certain stage, where you begin looking back far more often than you look forward and that’s when you get it. That’s when you start to gain perspective you otherwise would have missed. That’s when it all comes together. That our best days were non events, we sometimes wished our way through. That the best parts of our lives, were as nondescript as they come. They were a filler between the big stuff, but in the best ways. They weren’t just there to occupy space. They were there to make us into people who could see the value and the virtue in the common. People who could revel in the non event. Who could be at peace amid the mundane and maybe even start to see the sacredness of it.
Ordinary time doesn’t have to be a curse or a drudgery. It can be the doorway to the best parts of life, to the days we look back on with wonder, that such magic was available to us all the time, under our very roofs, and we were privileged enough to experience it.