The holiday pause is our greatest gift for the new year

December 27, 2020

It’s quiet now, as it should be before a major holiday. Things are starting to wind down. Whether you are religious, spiritual or just plain respectful, there is a pause at the end of a celebratory season. It’s a time to put your life in perspective and reflect on the road ahead.

All that frenzied activity of shopping, sending cards and visiting family will be pulled off the shelf soon, like a product whose expiration date has come. The real meaning of your pause will swing around just in time as a replacement.

Mother Nature lends a hand in this stillness. She sheds all distractions and adornments, leaving her children at their simplest. Take a walk on the sand dunes near the ocean and you will see a symphony worthy of a Beethoven sonata.

The beach grasses sway in yellow ochre and raw sienna colors, looking almost like wheat dancing in a field somewhere in Kansas. The ocean dons her winter coat of a deep steel-gray blue. It also is quiet, content to let the angry season pass. It laps at the sand and sighs at the sky. The seagulls circle but don’t seem to mind passing strangers. Often they barely move when you approach them if you are walking down by the shore.

As the remnants of fall start to fade, we are left with the perfect setting for reflection. That fork in the road becomes pretty blatant once you settle down and address the possibilities of the future.

Being surrounded by nature’s bounty is ideal for quiet time. You can walk the Boardwalk in Rehoboth unencumbered. Or you can climb one of the dunes in Lewes at Cape Henlopen State Park and gaze out over the lighthouse. Either one lends an atmosphere for an epiphany, a direction, an understanding and a resolution. You just have to be still and take it all into your very being. 

Maybe, like a lot of people have experienced, it’s been a harsh year. That harshness may include loss of a loved one. Perhaps finances are precarious or a job is in jeopardy. Or maybe uncertainty casts a dark shadow, one you have no answers for. Health issues may have thrown a wrench into your future plans. No one gets through life unscathed. They say that 10 percent of what happens to you is relevant; 90 percent is what you do with it. 

So this holiday season, I will leave you as I always do with my favorite poem by Robert Frost. It’s applicable no matter where you live or how you live. Some will be perplexed, like the horse, and others will simply get it, like the narrator. It is the pause. The poem is called “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”:

Whose woods these are
I think I know.
His house is in
the village though;
He will not see me
stopping here
To watch his woods
fill up with snow.
My little horse 
must think it queer
To stop without
a farmhouse near
Between the woods
and frozen lake
The darkest  evening
of the year.
He gives his harness bells
a shake
To ask if there is
some  mistake.
The only other sound’s
the sweep
Of easy wind
and downy flake.
The woods are lovely,
dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go
before I sleep
And miles to go
before I sleep.

Happy Holidays!

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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