I've received at least 5 emails today from various retailers announcing their "last minute" sales.
Seriously?! Today is December 11th. There are a full 13 days left before Christmas. I decided not to be rankled by the fact that Christmas merchandise showed up in stores quite a bit before Halloween this year, but I am not about to stand by and let someone proclaim to me that on Dec. 11th I am firmly entrenched in "the last minute." Sure, I understand that when ordering gifts online one is constrained by the number of days required for shipping and delivery, but can't they find some other phraseology that doesn't strike dread and shame into those of us who don't plan to shop online but still have a hefty list of holiday to-dos?
I mean, come on now, Dec 23rd is the last minute. Rushing around to whichever stores are open on Christmas Eve to snatch up whatever's left on the shelf is the last minute. Deciding that a stick of summer sausage is an appropriate gift for your uncle simply because you happen to already be at the grocery store picking up eggnog is what you do at the last minute. On Dec 11th there is still plenty of time to make your list, check it twice, and go about your holiday activities with a sense of decorum rather than haggard desperation.
Except there's not. I mean, yes, I still staunchly believe that 13 days out is hardly the last minute, but a study of my planner this morning revealed that I have very few pockets of time between now and Christmas during which I might accomplish the many things on my list, and while I am enthused about the sundry parties and gatherings and even this curious wedding coming up (though not the pink dress), I find myself groaning inside just a little bit at the lack of white space...
Margins. Margins are important. I set out this last January to reform my use of time, to learn about creating and guarding the margins in my life...those places full of white space outside the confines of scripted life where there is joy in spontaniety, where silence and solitude are not jockeyed out of position by relentless pressures, where Sabbath rest renews the body and soul.
I have to say that though I set out to learn a lesson about margins this year, I have been a very reluctant student, compromising time and again in the name of a busyness ethic on which I can't seem to release my grasp. I thank God for the grace that covers my failed attempts at rest; for another year on the horizon to continue learning this lesson; for another year of margins and white space just waiting to be...left blank.