The evergreens and lights were hung months ago. Friday night at midnight, we also lit the candle to begin the vigil. Now the day is here at last, the culmination of our months of preparation and shopping, DST, the day when clocks spring ahead, celebrating the myths of when the world almost ended. Our weather is perfect for it, with Vernal like clear robin egg's blue skies and warm air, just like a DST card.
Of all holidays, DST is my favorite. I think it brings more families together than any other holiday. It always brought my family together. Peace reigned during DST when I was growing up as it did at no other time. I think that it may have been that all those stories about the impending end of time (or the end of the world, depending on your point of view), stirred my parents into more considerate of one another and happier about what they had. Mom and Dad both came from households where traditional DST stories were told and Dad used to tell us kids the stories with great animation. He did a superb job with The First Clock (even better than that old cartoon about it that everyone watches that TBS shows twenty-four hours non-stop) and how the giant alarm clock came to travel around the world to spring ahead an hour and save humanity from the end of the world. He did all the voices of the alarm clocks, Big Ben, stop watches and wrist watches, along with the dying Father Time.
I thought of Dad and his stories often yesterday as my wife and I celebrated DST Eve - or Spring Ahead Eve, as Mom always referred to it. With the weather so perfect for the holiday, we did all the traditional DST chores, pulling weeds, hacking and digging up the squatting blackberry bush, and trimming off a dozen feet from the 'dwarf' budlea. Today I'll continue by raking up the last of the fallen autumn leaves and cutting the grass for the first time this year. We'll observe the traditional meals as well, handfuls of dried nuts and fruits for dinner, washed down with boiled beer soup (along with a non-traditional spinach vegetarian lasagna that my wife made), followed by brown sugar oatmeal pudding cake with raisins and cinnamon.
Although we'll do those things, my holiday spirit is ebbing, diminishing with a rush at 3 AM. Yes, I cajoled my wife into getting up at 3 AM to set the clocks ahead, unwrap our presents, and watch the sun rise. We don't give each other many presents but I enjoy opening the customary plain empty box that represents the gift of time that we gave each other. After that, we wrote down our New Time Resolutions on scripts of papers and then burned them with tapers and mixed them with the sands of time, just as our ancestors did before clocks were invented. Then we put the sands with ashes back into the hour glass. Turning it over, we drank a glass of wine and watched the sands run, as they would have done, to ensure time keeps moving forward for us.
I'll admit, the holiday spirit waxed strong through me as we did this and I felt a lump of pleasure, joy and sadness. Although I don't believe in the iconic myths associated with the holiday any longer and it's become too commercialized for me in many ways, I do like thinking of the people with the first hour glasses, lighting candles and turning the hour glasses over and waiting for dawn to verify that time had not stopped, and then celebrating with a great feast when dawn broke, confirmation that time had not stopped, that they had saved the world with their prayers, candles and hour glasses.
So another DST in my life has passed. Dawn has broken. The valley looks beautiful under its blanket of blue sky and warming sunshine. Only crows are stirring for a moment as I looked out and watched the sun's rosy fingers uncurling and stretching. The great poem about the crows and time went through my head as the birds flew and cawed, yet another memory of how closely humanity and nature once closely co-existed. I could not help but imagine the crows cawing the sun awake as some cultures claimed, thus saving the world. Some societies give credit to roosters but I prefer the version with crows, flying through the sky on their great flapping wings.
Tearing up and smiling through it, I whispered the words as the prophet was said to have whispered, "Humanity has saved time again, thus saving itself and the world," and felt strengthened by our traditions. I knew exactly how she must have felt on that morning.
Happy DST wherever you are. May all your minutes count.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com