Monthly Musing – December 2016 – Mind the gap
Here we are, in those few magical days between
Christmas and New Year when the world stops, or at least slows down, and we can
metaphorically get off. At least, that’s
how it used to be before technology ensured that we need never be cut off from
emails, social media, news reports or online shopping. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – I’ve been
very glad of the internet during my Christmas preparations, but I’ve also
noticed that it’s been a bit of a double-edged sword.
Yes, we can get things done faster, we can
email friends and family abroad to save on spiralling postage costs, buy
presents in other countries so that they can be delivered locally and make all
those last minute preparations to make our Christmas celebrations perfect
literally at the last minute.
But what I’ve also noticed is that whilst in
the pre-technology days everyone used to work their socks off to be ready for
the Christmas shut down as offices would have skeleton staff, factories would
close and many businesses would let their workers take holidays until the New
Year, this practise hasn’t stopped despite the fact that we take fewer holidays
and seem to have less time off than ever before. I’ve watched my husband and many other people
work their socks off (me included – and I’ve been knitting the socks as well!)
to have everything done for Christmas – but actually, would it really have
mattered if we didn’t? The emails haven’t stopped, the phone calls and
texts are still continuing and to a large extent, life is going on as normal –
except that at Christmas, normal isn’t good enough and everything has
to be perfect. The technology that should be helping us is
making us work harder than ever, and our desire to create a picture-book
Christmas simply adds to the workload.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that we
should ignore the demands of business because it’s a different world these
days, but I do question whether we could let the demands of business go a
little as we focus on what’s important at this time of year. Right up to Christmas Eve, my husband was
finding emails in his inbox asking if he could “just do this before Christmas”
when he was going to be back in work again on a few short days later and
presumably whatever it was wouldn’t spoil by waiting for what is essentially
only a long weekend. Our need to get things finished – our perfectionism, if you like –
refuses to let us stop and take a breath and at the end of what has been a demanding year of highs and lows for everybody, we need that more than
I think it’s
time to take the steering wheel again.
Put that “out of office” notice on your emails. Turn off your mobile phone whilst you watch
that movie you’ve had lined up for weeks.
Get off the world for just a few minutes, because it doesn’t stop for
long. Mind the gap.