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As the saying goes, Time waits for no man, and every year that passes makes me more painfully aware of that fact. I remember the first year that I actually became aware of the time flying past me. It was the year of 2008, and at the end of it I realized for the first time what it feels like for time to fly by. Sadly, not a single year of my life since then has slowed down the smallest bit; instead, each successive year has flown by faster than the year before, and the year of 2016 was no exception.

I’ve written about not wasting our time, but there’s another angle to the concept of time: slowing down and really living each moment of our time.

I’ve been watching and feeling the time pass by in its customary swiftness this entire year, but just in the past week of the Christmas festivities have I become especially aware of how fast not only time passes by, but also the world and people along with it. Our society is so fast-paced, it’s almost like they are constantly pressing and pushing at it to rush forward even faster, as if time needs any help to get its thing done.

One of the boldest declarations of that observation resides in my own personal computer. Yeah, probably yours, too. I’m talking about my email inbox.

As I’ve scrolled through my emails during the months of November and December, I’ve watched the email subject lines change and adapt with the flow of the seasons.

I present to you:

The Holidays! –Narrated by Heather’s Email Inbox

First, at the end of November, there’s “Black Friday Super Sale!” Then, “Cyber Monday Super Sale!” Then as the month goes by, random things like “Keep Warm in Cozy Boots + BOGO Boots Online!”… “Tis the Season | Advent Devotional, Day 2″ … ” “9 Days of Joy” Holiday Sale”… “The most romantic time of the year!” … “My holiday gift for you: A snippet from a new book!”

As we get closer to the big day, the subject lines get increasingly Christmas-centered. “White Chocolate Peppermint Snowflake Cookies Recipe” … “A brand-new Kennedy thriller to get you in the Christmas mood” … “Huge Christmas Sale Starts Tomorrow”… “Do You Wish the Holidays Were Already Over?” … “To: Heather, From: Santa”… “40% off + Last Day for holiday delivery!” … “This Christmas, give the greatest gift of all!”

(Yes, these are actual emails in my inbox.)

But then, without warning, a few of these premature (I think) lines slip in: “12 New Books for Winter 2017”, and “Spend the New Year With the Wise Men.”

I’m like, “Wait, what?? Please people, it’s only December 18th! Just let me enjoy and savor my Christmas season first without having to think of the New Year. Please, just a few more days? Is that too much to ask? I just–I mean–I can’t even…” *long drawn-out sigh*

So yeah, then in the final week before Christmas, the emails grow increasingly festive and desperately exciting.

“GIFT ALERT: $16.99 Cozy Mocs For Your Last-Minute List!”… (Oh.my.goodness. I’ve always wanted some $17 cozy mocs. Like seriously.) … “Add Rewards to your holiday list”… “Don’t Forget: We Got You A Present!” … “Last Call! Only two days left to order your Holiday Feast!”… “Great Books for Last-Minute Gift Ideas!”… “8 HOURS Left: $5 off 2 Day Shipping by 🎅 Christmas!”… “Must-Have Boots + 4 Days Until Christmas + Last Day to Ship!” … “50% Off Holiday Clearance Sale – Ends Soon!”…”We have the perfect last minute Christmas gift, with a bonus!!”

Finally, Christmas Eve arrives, and the emails calm down into sweet, non-marketing, almost meditative, greetings.

“Happy Holidays to you!” … “a Christmas gift for you.” … “Last Call! Skip Stores & Save!” (Oh whoops, someone wasn’t done yet); “Celebrate the season of giving—find out which savings we’ve picked out!” … “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” (My favorite subject line yet)  … “A few free books for Christmas.”

Christmas Day: “From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!” … “Happy Holidays, Heather and some nifty giveaways just for you…” … “Happy Holidays From My House To Yours!” … “My Gift to You” … “Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas!”

So sweet. Ah, I feel happy and cozy and generous and all warm inside.

Oh wait, I guess it couldn’t last long. On December 26, I’m jolted back into the cold, harsh rush, rush, rush feeling: “After Christmas Book Sale: $5 & 50% Off” .. “CLEARANCE – $10 + 15% off Online!” … “75% off Holiday Clearance Sale” … “New Year Deals – Up to 80% savings! – Shop Now”

Aha, and there we go–heading out of the Christmas station at break-neck speed, and first stop? New Years! (Or was it Valentine’s Day? Oh-oh, no, they did decide to make a ten minute stop at New Years.)

That was just too quick. I’m still trying to save the last vestiges of Christmas spirit from being trampled into the dust. My Christmas music has barely had a chance to warm up. The Christmas tree is hardly out of its prime! My dog is still begging to wear her reindeer sweater–please! Just slow down a tad.

But no, the world demands to rush on.

“2016 was Big…2017 is Gonna Be HUGE! :D” … “💲💲💲 In On New Year’s Eve Jobs” … “It’s Time To Start Planning The New Year!”

All of this is actually kind of hilarious to me, when I really think about it. But it’s sobering, too. Anyway, my point of presenting the Holidays from the perspective of my emails is probably very evident by now.

Pretty much, our society doesn’t know how to slow down anymore. It doesn’t know what it means to live simply and intentionally. It’s forgotten how to live in the moment. And sadly, I think many of us have, too. I know I’ve been guilty of that many times.

But time is so precious and fleeting. It doesn’t wait for us in any way. It will run on and on, never stopping, never tiring. We don’t have to help it along by rushing, stressing out, scheduling our lives down to the minute, dwelling on our pasts and worrying about our futures.

As this year draws to a close, don’t be hurrying and scurrying around, thinking about what needs to be done next, spending your entire day planning out your new year. Sure, you can think about the new year, plan out your New Year’s Eve party, turn off your Christmas music (if you really are that much of a grinch). You can move on from Christmas. I’m not saying that the world is wrong to move on. Life keeps moving, life goes on, and we do have to move with it.

But I’m just saying, don’t hurry it along. Don’t push time forward as if your whole life revolves around keeping up with it. You’ll never catch up to it; you won’t pass it or get ahead of it. Time will move, and we will move on with it, but as a twig floats with the current of a river–not like a motor boat cruising wildly ahead of the current.

Time, for each of us, will run out soon enough. Let’s just slow ourselves down a bit, enough to really enjoy and savor the moments. Let’s slow down enough to become aware of our surroundings, the people around us, the needs and emotions existing around us, the beauty of nature’s colors, smells, sounds, textures. Take a deep breath of the crisp winter air; take in that earthy, spicy scent of nature; drink in the moonlight tonight; enjoy a mug of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows while you cozy up in front of the fire; spend extra time with loved ones without letting a single thought or worry about your busy schedule cloud the moment. Yes, these things take up time. But in these moments, you’re actually living life out as it was meant to be, rather than existing out of a schedule.

Savor those moments; you’ll never regret it.