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A Reflection of the Awkward Times that Lead to Spring

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Commentary:

This is my favorite time of the year. I don't mean the turkey on Thanksgiving or the tree for Christmas. I mean these strange days between Christmas and the end of the year. It’s an awkward time. Ask anyone in an office between Monday, December 26, and Friday, December 30. It’s a time-bending malaise that would work well as a pause, a natural recharge if we let it.

But it's also the doldrums, where certain relief comes as the stress of the holidays subsides. But, relief is not rest. Relief is not necessarily a pathway to something better. This time, however, forces us to confront a shift from one year to the next and ask ourselves if this year is one where we just got older, or, if it’s one where we learned from that passage of time.

It could be a more forced pause if we’re buried in snow, but for those of us whose Christmases are rarely white, it has to be found differently. I spend time lost in thoughts, but I watch my husband be proactive by putting out birdseed and filling the birdbath with warm water. From our kitchen, we watch the birds, living in nature’s starkest season, gobble up an unexpected bounty.

“Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through,” said Katherine May in her book ‘Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times.

But when humans have time to pause, especially the millennial brood, there’s an inclination to hide it. Consistent productivity has been the name of the game since we were young. Nature and life teach us that it’s not sustainable. The pandemic was a perfect time for a wintering of sorts, much like the awkward last few days of the year. It wasn’t just a millennial winter but a time for all of us to debate the lessons of a pause.

“Wintering is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs,” said May. “Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.”

Millennials are that awkward transition between the past and the future, but also the testing ground for seeking new paths into a new spring. There’s an undercurrent that consumerism and productivity aren’t the connection to humanity we seek. There’s gratitude for what we have and the cultivation of ideas that could allow us to change what didn’t work in the past.

I feel that gratitude when I reflect on this column. If you allow me a moment to break the literary fourth wall, I’m thankful for the readers who share their time with me by simply reading my words. I’ve written this column for the Las Cruces Sun-News since 2016. In 2020, right before the pandemic, I was syndicated nationally by Creators. (This was a strange time to start writing about the millennial experience weekly.)

Mostly, I’m humbled, and feel a little unworthy, to share New Mexican flavor with the rest of the country, even though some may forget that New Mexico is even on the U.S. map.

For those of you who have written me over the years, I appreciate each note, even the ire-laden ones. If you’ve never reached out, please do. The most valuable emails were those when I heard from people who understand millennials just a touch more.

And, I’m always happy to take topics on what you’d like me to explore as a millennial experience because that experience will also shape your future. You’ll find us all over now, not just as your daughters, sons, or grandchildren, but as your co-workers, your bosses, and even your legislators. We’re here to make the world different, maybe even in ways we might not have dreamed up yet.