On this eve of Christmas Eve, time is running short to do the last of your calculations. Did you get something for everyone, do each of your children—at least the ones who can count—have the same number of presents under the tree and are they equivalent in terms of value and enjoyment?
If you are kitchen-oriented, you are conducting different calculations —figuring out when to put the turkey in the oven on Christmas morning, or the standing rib roast. You are reckoning the arrival time of the little ones who will help you decorate cookies and at the same time turn your kitchen into a winter wonderland of flour and powdered sugar.
Perhaps you have family on the road, heading home for the holidays. Perhaps you have family heading away from your house, heading to another home, the new in-laws, say, or to the distant cities where your middle-aged children will join their own children, now grown and on their own.
It doesn’t matter. You will juggle all the time tables in your head, keeping an eye on the weather channel and your flight board apps. You will do the math backward on their ETA’s, keeping them safe with your worry and care.
Or maybe you’ve already had your Christmas. Your family gathered last weekend, or the weekend before. Then your calculations might be different. Today you are estimating all the hours of the next few days in your head, thinking about how you will fill them, how to enjoy the quiet and solitude without feeling sad or pitiful.
You may enlist the help of books, or TV schedules and movie showings, or you may just decide to sleep through it, arriving on the other side refreshed and well-rested.
Perhaps the next few days will be a continuation of the past few weeks—parties, gatherings, family and friend reunions, a weekend so full you will need the precision of a Swiss railroad table to make it all work.
And if any of this describes your Christmas, even a little bit, then you are lucky and rich beyond measure. You have people to love and do for. People who love and do for you.
If you are worried about your turkey, you have no worries, for you have food.
If you are worried about the quality of your gifts, you have no worries. There are gifts.
If you have love in your life, you have everything. Just simply everything.
This year, more than others, is seems important to remember this. As the light leaves us in the last days of December, it is also good to spend some time calculating the state of the world, our community, our neighborhoods, where there are those without enough to eat, without warmth, either in the form of a good coat or love.
We live in a community known for its generosity and it isn’t too late, even now, to do some charitable math, and find someone to help, or include, or pray for. Or send good energy, if that suits you better, for never is need more acutely felt than at the holidays. Never is sorrow more difficult than at Christmas.
This is math I can do. There is power in it, being grateful and helping others. It reassures us, after all the hoopla, all the excess, that we can do this, this little thing in our small corner of the world, to help bring about the return of light.
It is the Christmas promise, the gift, given and received, and passed along to others.