I didn’t realize I’d be time travelling at Christmas.
I hate hearing the first “After Christmas Sale” commercials before the holiday has even arrived. For me, it diminishes the spirit of the day, like thinking about the goodbye before we’ve even had a hello. Like, as a kid, hearing “Back to School” ads in mid-July.
This year, I heard my first “After Christmas Sale” radio ad the day before Christmas Eve. My wife, myself and our kids were driving to a local holiday light show, an annual family tradition. The ad came on, and at first, everything seemed normal. Of course, I wasn’t pleased to hear it. But then I heard something that made me do a straight-out-of-a-cartoon double take. I realized the commercial was advertising an After Christmas Sale beginning before Christmas!
Yes, that’s right.
And it immediately made me think about how much time is compressing. How it’s getting harder and harder to live in the present, when the present is being squeezed out by the past and future.
Like Black Friday.
In the past, Black Friday deals happened on Black Friday. And to get them, you had to go shopping on, you guessed it, Black Friday. People would get up early to be the first in line when the stores opened, or even camp out the night before. But, now, we hear about Black Friday deals starting weeks before Thanksgiving.
Yes, time is compressing.
If you don’t believe me, watch what happens in the stores soon after Christmas. What will you see? Yes, that’s right. Valentine’s Day merchandise. And soon thereafter, Easter stuff. And then, once Halloween rolls back around, you’ll be back at the store, searching through costumes, while on the shelves above you, you’ll notice boxes of Christmas wrapping paper, waiting.
At the same time, local radio stations will kick off their “all Christmas songs” programming, oftentimes earlier than the year before.
The danger with all this is that when time compresses, it overlaps and gets jumbled, and so do we. As the future becomes the present, and the present becomes the past, something begins to happen inside us, too. We lose our anchor, our center. And we lose the ability to actually experience our moments, meaning we don’t have the chance to feel them, learn from them, and let them turn into memories.
And, to take this all to its logical conclusion, at some point, time will stretch into the future far enough from the present that it will actually touch the time stretching backwards from that same point. And in there, in that melting, we’ll lose something precious.
Confused? Well, yes, so am I.
So, for now, why don’t we all just take a moment. To breathe. To notice. To connect.
And leave the time travel to future generations.
Or hopefully teach them that time travel isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
For me, that would be Christmas miracle enough.
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