Friday, November 28, 2014

Silly Season

Silly season..
‘Tis the season to be jolly..’ or it nearly is. It feels like the marketing hype around Christmas starts earlier and earlier each year. In our shops Halloween was a big retail event, and no sooner was the glut of orange and black merchandise off the shelves than it was replaced with tinsel, Santa and a lurid glut of Christmas merchandise instead: silly season has begun!

As if to prove the point that our biggest calendar events have been hijacked by retail sales, the eruption of fighting in supermarkets on Black Friday was all over the news this week, as people fought over HD TVs and other high-end goods. Our first world obsession with “stuff” is a whole other topic! 

"The feeling that life’s accelerating can be disorientating and stressful"
Silly Season isn't about taking ourselves less seriously, although for the record I do think we should be more playful in our approach to life (see my recent post on this here). Instead, the phrase has become an apt description of the acceleration we can feel in many parts of our lives in the lead up to Christmas and the New Year.

In my day job, December is always full of deadlines – so many of our clients want reports and designs completed by Christmas, often for no particular reason than it’s a convenient date! This year the rush and unreasonable deadlines began early!

The definition from Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable..
Silly Season can place demands on us in our home lives too, the pressure to buy the perfect gifts for our loved ones, perhaps a heightened tension between our shopping habits and our bank balance.

Maybe during silly season we’re tempted make decisions we wouldn't make at other times of the year? With so much going on, the “fear of missing out” can become a powerful motivator to buy, consume, party and rush.

The feeling that life’s accelerating can be disorientating and stressful, and Christmas can be a time when we feel the loss of loved ones more poignantly or we can be full of regrets for the things that have or haven’t happened over the year. Silly season can put pressure on our families leading to arguments and even break up. I've heard it’s the busiest time of the year for helplines such as the Samaritans.

As much as Silly Season conveys a sense of haste, in journalistic terms Silly Season can refer to a period of slow news – leading to "all sorts of silly stuff" according to my trusty copy of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. (Weirdly, according to the entirely reliable Wikipedia, many countries call Silly Season “Cucumber Time”.. go figure).
"Whether you’re facing feast or famine... it’s important to keep a level head"
Perhaps instead of too much going on you feel like there’s not enough going on in your life – you’re waiting for something to happen. Maybe you've been waiting all year or longer.

In the Christian tradition, the period in the lead up to Christmas is called Advent. It’s a time of anticipation, of positive waiting, celebrating that the Saviour has come and anticipating his return.

If you’re anything like me, waiting for something can be a difficult and impatient thing! Often we can be negative about waiting, bemoaning the fact, when instead Advent reminds us of the value of positive waiting, a pregnant pause.
Advent - anticipatory waiting
Pregnancy is a good example of positive, anticipatory waiting – it’s important to wait until full term to give the baby time to grow. Babies born prematurely can have a difficult start to life if they’re not sufficiently developed when they arrive.

Whether you’re facing feast or famine, whether Silly Season is a time where life is too fast or too slow, it’s important to keep a level head. I’m reminded of lines from Kipling’s famous poem “If”: 

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs… 
...if you can wait and not be tired by waiting..”

Perhaps it’s time to trade your Silly Season for Advent. To trade activity or impatient waiting for positive anticipation, if you’re able to, in the midst of the business of this time of year. If you're looking for help to do this, try checking out Occupy Advent on Facebook or Twitter, or Pray as you Go for some daily audio reflections.

"Perhaps it’s time to trade your Silly Season for Advent"

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