A Reflection On The Passage Of Time: The Importance Of Presence Amid Presents

Christmas morning 2000 found me downstairs at 7 a.m., sitting on the landing in my family’s front hallway, and staring, eagerly, at the mountain of presents that Santa Claus and his eight reindeer had trekked to my Milwaukee home the night prior.

Now, I am one of six, so Christmas morning is (more than) kind of a big deal at our house: no one is allowed to go downstairs until all are up—including my overly exhausted parents (who, given their many, futile attempts to sleep in over the years, I realized have no respect for the extensive work Jolly Old Santa put in for us—some people, man).

The way my siblings tell it, by the time they found me I was knee-deep in the heap, attempting to discern the contents of wrapped packages by gently shaking them one by one, and making a mess of the neat pile in the process. This is somewhat exaggerated.

I mean, sure—I don’t deny the fact that that my juvenile “lack of chill” got the best of me that 25th, but hey, I’m no Corinch.

I swear, my 6-year-old self did not commit any sins against my guy Santa and his cherished presents—only transgressions on presence.

Although we are just closing in on Thanksgiving this week, I felt it only prudent to conclude my features editor, column-writing journey the way I began it: with talk of Christmas tidings and the eagerness that surrounds them.

(Additionally, I’m obviously as amped as the next person to start listening to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” but that is beside the point.)

Further, the pervasive, materialistic consumerism that dominates our American conception of Christmastime and the holiday season that begins immediately in the wake of Halloween (read: Labor Day)—and the abrupt Hallmark transition to Valentine’s day (yuck!) following New Year’s—provides an accessible example of time passed too quickly, too apathetically to make room for that which is to come.

The days directly following Christmas and New Year’s Day see trees on the side of the road, gifts already consumed, returned, or closeted, and “new year, new me” resolutions likely abandoned on the 4th of January (5th, if you’re lucky and uncommonly determined).

And as I’m reflecting upon my experience with the board of The Heights, and on my time at Boston College thus far, I can’t help but notice the similarities between my 6-year-old restlessness—and society’s seasonal impatience—and my broader appreciation of my tenure with this organization, my years on this campus.

Since my arrival to Chestnut Hill, wishing away valuable time has been a significant trope. Due to all of the homework, exams, and papers (upon papers, upon papers), and given the great physical distance that separates me from my parents, sister, and four brothers, for the past three years I have been continually looking forward, waiting for the next step, the next break, the next season.

Constantly so focused on surviving the school week’s strenuous workload, I suffer from tunnel vision and struggle to remain present, to live in the now and fully appreciate life—its harmonies as well as its hardships.

As sentimental and cliche as the forthcoming may be, The Heights has truly been for me a home away from home, a family of 40 that helps me remain present due to its primary focus as a publication: newsworthy on-campus, Greater Boston, and global goings-on. From reading (and re-reading) dozens of articles each Wednesday and Sunday as associate copy editor, to finding and pursuing article topics for my budget as features editor, I was effectively forced to live in the moment each week through my compulsory cognizance of current events at the University.

In addition, when you spend more hours a week with a certain group of people than you do sitting in class, there is a solidarity that exists between you and them as you work toward the same, sometimes seemingly thankless goal, and extraneous worries and predicaments become somehow trivial. For the past two years, these incredible people have enabled me to realize what really matters, and to live in the present in so doing.

So as I sit here, I realize that time has not merely wasted away into the ugly abyss that is broken red copy pens and day-old Roggies (RIP), stressful Sunday nights made from dropped stories, but that it instead stands as a testament to all I have experienced in Chestnut Hill, to how I have grown as a student and as an individual, and to the wonderful alacrity of life itself.

And as we progress toward the 25th, I want to maintain the chill my younger self did not have amid the ribbons, tags, packages, boxes, and bags, to revel in the joys of family and friends, and to recall the perennial need to live in and embrace the present. Peace out, y’all.

Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff


Maddie Phelps

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