The Gift of Epiphany

View of my backyard and the road leading to my house

So this is what we woke up to this morning.  A rare Southern snow storm arrived last night…sort of.  It turned out to be as much sleet and freezing rain as snow, so there isn’t really much of the white stuff but a whole lot of ice.  Not enough snow for the kids to make snowmen and go sledding, so they are disappointed, but too much ice for the adults to go about their normal routines, so they are disappointed as well.

However, I am looking at it as my great Epiphany gift.

Epiphany-the day the wise men arrived at the manger bearing gifts-isn’t much celebrated in America, other than in Latin American communities, where it is known as Three Kings Day and is a big feast and present-giving occasion.  However, in olden days, it was a much bigger deal.

My family spent the week after Christmas in Williamsburg, so we got to brush up on the colonial holiday celebrations.  During the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, most of December was marked as the religious practices of Advent.  There were no parties, feasts, gift giving and such leading up to Christmas; people were too busy going to church and preparing themselves spiritually for the birth of the Christ.  However, after going to Mass Christmas morning–let the partying begin!  So the great 12 Days of Christmas, which most of us only know of as a song, were the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany, and that was when all social celebrations took place. It was a time of feasts and fancy balls and other festivities.

So Epiphany marked the end of the period of indulgences.  Yes, there were final parties and presents and such.  But there were also traditions of cleansing, of receiving blessings for the new year, and of acknowledging it was time to put the parties behind and get back to work.  Many Christian communities felt it was bad luck if the Christmas decorations weren’t removed by the end of the night of Epiphany.

As it turned out, we participated in that ancient tradition ourselves this year.  My son and I put away the decorations and the lights and the tinsel garlands and he managed to get our not-so-fresh-anymore Christmas tree out of the door before the snows came.

Like most of the adults in my area, I had a bunch of events for Friday, Saturday, or Sunday that have been cancelled.  And I could be annoyed and frustrated because I can’t do the things I had planned and/or will have to rearrange and reschedule.

However, I really see this interruption in my plans as a gift.  Since we were in Williamsburg after Christmas, I wasn’t home taking care of life routines that tend to slip during holidays.  So suddenly it was “back to school” week, and I was trying to get back to classes and such and juggling a lot of loose ends in my life.  So that was kind of stressing me out-when I let it (see Dream Wisdom).

All the things I had planned were fun or important and valuable.  But I think a weekend where I am forced to stay home is a unique opportunity for me to stay focused on taking care of some of the more mundane aspects of life.  Somehow, cleaning and decluttering and catching up on bills and other record keeping and such seems easier in the atmosphere of peace and tranquility that our rare snows brings me.  I have nowhere to go, no other responsibilities I must do.  I can focus on my household, and re-establish my secure basis on which to juggle all my many outside activities and obligations.

I hope this day finds you safe and warm and in a mode of surrendering to what is.  I plan to spend the day productively and polish off a lot of those chores I’ve been avoiding.  Then tonight we will gather by the fireplace, eating our traditional snow-day dinner of chili, and give thanks for this day of interruption in our busy, scheduled lives.


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