Monday, November 8, 2010

Fall back (into a whole extra hour)

I’ve never bought a lottery ticket, but on Saturday night I had a feeling that must be what it’s like to win one. Holly and I had gone to Portland on Friday afternoon with my parents and needed to be back for church on Sunday – I was both a greeter and a Sunday school teacher this week – so we had to head home on Saturday night after dinner. I was loathe to leave because we were having such a good time, and I didn’t want to rush a fine dinner of fresh, locally caught cod and roasted potatoes, so it was a little after seven when we headed home.

And, as always, I was already feeling behind on the weekend. I was almost-but-not-entirely ready for the Sunday school class; I knew I hadn’t left things all that tidy at home before we left; I hadn’t gotten as much work done while in Maine as I’d hoped to (yes, it was a weekend, but I was a little backed up with article deadlines and should have at least tried to get some writing done); and I’d been too busy to read the newspaper in two days. Staying in Maine as late as possible felt like the right thing to do while I was there, but heading home I was growing increasingly frazzled.

And then we arrived home – grateful as always for safe travels – and a wonderful thing happened. Even though it was technically 9:30 at night, and therefore not only past time for Holly to be in bed but time for me to start wrapping up my evening as well, Rick had already set the clocks back to mark the end of daylight saving. And just like that, magical as a visit from Cinderella’s fairy godmother, it wasn’t 9:30 at all; it was 8:30.

Which made a colossal difference to me. Nine-thirty is practically bedtime; eight-thirty is still the middle of the productive part of the evening. (If neither of these sounds like a very interesting description of a Saturday night, I should just mention that a night before I have to teach Sunday school is, as far as I’m concerned, really a school night for me: it’s important to me to be well-prepared with a lesson plan, all set with any supplies I need, and ready to wake up early.) Holly was tired and went right to sleep; Tim was reading in bed. I was elated to realize as late as it felt, it suddenly wasn’t really that late at all.

The end of daylight saving always feels like such a gift to me, the one I need more than anything else: the gift of time. I know I shouldn’t live my life in such a way that an hour makes that much difference. To my husband Rick, it doesn’t. He’s a much better planner than I am; he doesn’t budget every last minute toward one thing or another. An hour one way or another doesn’t make all that much difference to him; he’s not that starved for time, and I admire that greatly, but I find it impossible to emulate. An extra hour is huge to me. Even an extra ten minutes can be a big deal most days.

Rick dislikes the day we turn the clocks back because of the sense that early daylight means the end of any hope of warm weather. I love the long sunlight evenings of June and July, but the change in the clock doesn’t really bother me. The early darkness makes the transition from afternoon to evening easier; I know when darkness falls, it’s time to get serious about making dinner and getting the kids thinking about bedtime.

But the best part is definitely that first hour, whether we change the clocks back on Sunday morning like we usually do or Saturday evening like Rick did this year. An hour. A whole extra hour. I wish it could happen more often, but even just once a year, it’s an absolutely wonderful gift.

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