Spontaneity vs. scheduling

This was originally posted two years ago almost to the day. I was working on post in which I was going to link to it, but as I read through it, I realized it said what I wanted to say already.
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933343_i_love_you.jpgI’ve always loved holidays and the opportunity to celebrate something special, to do something a little different from the ordinary. I look forward to them eagerly.

But over the last few years I’ve increasingly heard sentiments along the lines that, “I’d rather have spontaneous everyday expressions than a scheduled one dictated by greeting card companies with all the pressure and expectations.” I’ve probably heard it most in connection with Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, but there seems to be a growing anti-holiday mentality in general.

Well, we do have to be careful about unrealistic expectations and pressures. Traditions can be wonderful elements in one’s life, but if they add pressure and we feel enslaved to them (“It just wouldn’t be Christmas without….”), then they’ve gone too far. If our schedules are over-flowing and we feel we have to add 50 things to it to celebrate a holiday, then we need to reevaluate. A commemoration of a holiday can be very simple: most years our Valentine’s Days have just involved a card by everyone’s plate at dinner and heart-shaped cupcakes for dessert, though some times we’ve done more.

And it is true stores commercialize just about every holiday. But commercialization in itself isn’t a reason not to celebrate.

I look at it this way: we’re supposed to be thankful every day, but Thanksgiving is a special opportunity to take the time to sit down and take stock of all that we have to be thankful for and to actually spend time giving thanks to the One who has blessed us. It doesn’t mean any less because we gave thanks according to a date on the calendar rather than spontaneously.

In the same way, I love my family every day and I hope I show it at least often enough that they don’t doubt it. But lives get busy and distractions multiply, so it’s nice to have an occasional time to focus on the other people in our lives and let them know how much we love them. It doesn’t mean any less because it’s a “scheduled” time to show love. If my husband gives me a nice card on Valentine’s Day, as he usually does, I’m not going to toss it aside and think, “He just did that because he felt he was ’supposed’ to.” I am going to enjoy it and appreciate it for what it is: an expression of his love. It’s the same with Mother’s Day: we should honor our parents every day, but there is nothing wrong with a special day set aside to sit down, take stock, remember how much we love them and appreciate them, and let them know that.

Holidays and celebrations can even be a reminder or add a bit of revival to the appreciation we should feel every day. I honestly don’t think about patriotism very much on an everyday basis, but patriotic holidays remind me that I am extremely glad to live in my country and I am extremely thankful for those who make it possible.

One quote in my files attributed to Samuel Johnson says, “The Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there should be a stated day for commemorating the birth of our Saviour, because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected.”

“What may be done on any day” may be neglected because we don’t often think about it in the course of busy everyday responsibilities.

I’m not saying I think everyone should keep holidays. “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it” (Romans 14:6a).

I’m just saying that a scheduled time for honoring someone or showing appreciation doesn’t negate the everyday expressions and doesn’t mean any less. It’s nice to have both the spontaneous and the scheduled.

(Photo courtesy of the stock.xchng)

11 thoughts on “Spontaneity vs. scheduling

  1. My complaint isn’t with holidays per se. It is with the commercialism. Last year on 2/13 Amoeba took me to our favorite “dive” diner. I was content. On 2/14 he insisted on cooking dinner. I was touched and amazed. On 2/15 he revealed reservations at a very fancy restaurant. I was thrilled and overwhelmed. Of all of that, do you know which gesture /I cherish most? The cooking of dinner in our own home. That took thought and time and energy.

    I would rather have a crayoned iece of typing paper then a store bought card. Don’t tell the store keeper you care. Show me.

    • I hope you don’t tell anyone who gives you a store-bought card that. 🙂 I know you wouldn’t. But some people take great time and card reading and choosing just the “right” card. If they express their love that way, that’s fine — I’m not going to expect them to do something they’re not comfortable with.

      And I know some people don’t take time and care — they just buy whatever to fulfill what they see as an “obligation.” I’d rather it were seen as an opportunity rather than an obligation, but at least to some degree they were thinking of the recipient by getting a card at all.

      I guess what it boils down to is that there is nor right or wrong way to celebrate or show one’s love as long as people who love each other communicate their love to each other.

  2. You always explain things so well, Barbara, and I appreciate it so much. You have such a balanced view of most things, which is hard to find nowadays.
    I appreciate you and your blog! ((HUGS))

  3. I agree with ‘quilly’. It’s the commercialism that irks me. But I’m not one to throw the baby out with the bath water. I enjoy holidays and find some way to celebrate each one in a special way for my family. It usually isn’t elaborate, just a little something that makes the day stand out from every other day’s routines. Just switches things up a bit.

  4. I agree with you and I’m going to link;)

    Buying a store bought card and giving it to the person does show care. Not everyone is into making homemade cards.

    We wouldn’t say that buying a wedding ring is showing the store keeper you care. NO way–we consider it a gift from our loved one.

    I don’t understand the thinking to throw away the whole day just because it’s become commercialized. I think Vday is a fun holiday for kids. It’s special for us because my husband asked me to marry him on Valentines day.

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