Behind and Beyond the Break

“What are you doing for the Christmas break?”

This question frequents coffee shops and bus stops these days. My holiday has already begun, and yesterday afforded me the opportunity to spend some time playing board games with family. My youngest, after a time, suggested we should do more of this – more board games. This equates to more family time, less tech time; more quality time, less on-the-fly time. At one level, it all comes down to time. What we do during a holiday break speaks to what we do in the time on each side of the fissure which is the Christmas break.

I like the word break. I like its ambiguity. On the one hand, a break is a stop, or a rest; a moment for repose. Lunch break, coffee break, a break from the daily grind: these all point to the manner in which we need a moment in the midst of the many mundane tasks that front as productivity in our world wearied by the need to appear important, productive and competent. The sad truth is too often busy-ness simply masks fear. We scramble to do more because we fret about being found incompetent; a vice that I am reticent to contribute to the work ethics of rascally Protestants. I think this anxiety affects the human condition. We need a break from this angst, which brings me to the other manner in which we talk about a break.

A break is also associated with rupture, trauma, and disconnection. Arms are broken. Friendships are broken. Promises are broken. The images that we connect with this kind of break are not so positive: what are you doing with this Christmas break? What are we doing about the disconnect between the Christmas message of love incarnate and the crass commercial fiction that love can be bought; a fiction that leaves people in emotional and financial disarray in January? Do we even think about this Christmas break?

It seems to me that these two breaks are connected. The realization that what we do and what we value are utterly disparate shatters our sense of self; as individuals and as communities. It leaves us wondering who we are, but it also invites us to take up this question earnestly. And that takes time. A break commands a break. A break poses life altering questions: why isn’t there enough time for a family game? Why isn’t there enough time for the creative juices to flow? Why isn’t there enough time to take a break? Why, indeed.

12 thoughts on “Behind and Beyond the Break

  1. shoreacres says:

    A reader asked me today if folk-singer Stan Rogers’ brother, Garnet, still was performing. Certain he was, I did a quick check anyway and left a link to his home page in my answer. My reader’s response illustrates your point. She said,”Many thanks for the link to Garnet’s home page. Something’s not correct when I don’t have time to do a simple google-search myself.”

    Still, I wonder. Is it just a matter of time, or is something else at play? It took less than a minute to find the information, and only a minute more to copy and paste it into my reply to her. That’s not much time at all.

    Perhaps, in the end, many of us have allowed ourselves to become slaves to habits of thought. “I don’t have enough time” is a big one, along with “I don’t have enough silence” and “I don’t have enough space”.

    I’m just wondering, here – if we were able to “break out” of such patterns of thought, perhaps we could transform our lives sufficiently that fewer “breaks” would be needed.

  2. agjorgenson says:

    Yes, I agree. Habits of thought quickly frame our view of self, world and even God. We imagine lack when surplus is the truth. A break might be the only thing that arrests such patterns of thought. Thanks for this, and blessed Christmas to you!

  3. jannatwrites says:

    This line says so much: “The realization that what we do and what we value are utterly disparate shatters our sense of self; as individuals and as communities.”

    Great thoughts for the Christmas season, as we determine how to spend our break.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Thanks Janna! It is both a challenge and a gift for us. That need to be busy is both addictive and culturally driven. Slowing down is really going upstream these days.

  4. diannegray says:

    What a thoughtful post. I’ve been running around like a mad hen for the past week and it was only Christmas afternoon I got to stop and spend time with my family (although I have driven several thousand kilometers to be here so I think my mind was still on those white lines on the road!).

    Now my ‘break’ consists of taking a break from ‘thinking about what I have to do next’ and just relaxing and chatting with family and friends. There never seems to be enough time, but I’m certainly going to make some time now 😉

    Have a wonderful New Year! 😀

  5. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks, and blessing to you too in the New Year! Enjoy your family time. I too live far from family and treasure every moment I can spend with them.

  6. Denise Hisey says:

    What an interesting perspective; I’ve never thought of it that way. You are spot on, I think.

  7. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks Denise. Have a great New Year, and here’s hoping it will provide you with the best kind of breaks.

  8. Pam says:

    Interestingly, my 16 year old asked to play Scrabble this Christmas, first return to a board game in many years. We are having so much fun but I keep getting “Q” without a “U.”. Do you have any suggestions? Which board game did you play this Christmas? Merry Christmas to you all!

  9. agjorgenson says:

    Hi Pam, you could always do like my father in law, and just make up words and bluff your way through the game. We played blockus, quartro, and quorridor (great scrabble names, but you need the u). I think board games are coming back a bit… I hear of coffee shops dedicated to them. Good to know that we are on the right side of the wave. Happy New Year to you and yours!

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