When I was little, a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I went to a parochial school and we wore plaid woolen uniforms (jumpers for little girls, skirts for older girls) with particular white blouses and green wool sweaters, even the socks and shoes were prescribed, white or green cable knit knee highs with soap and water saddle shoes (not sure what the soap and water thing was all about it is just part of the name for me), yet we still shopped for back to school things.
There were nice clothes to be bought for going to church on Sunday and nice everyday clothes, not to be confused with play clothes, to be purchased for our wardrobe for when we went to town. There were also book bags to be purchased and all the things that went in them. So suffice it to say there were "back to school" things that must be purchased, even in my family.
"Back to School" was not a bad time for me, yes I liked summer, my birthday was in the summer but fall is my favorite time of the year. September for me is like the real New Year; a new start on things, a chance to get it right this time, a time that is fresh with unending possibilities. I say this to note that I did not mind the whole back to school thing I only had two problems with it. Number one was that my birthday presents from my parents were most always some back to school thing. Mind you I was the youngest of six, I noticed that everyone else just had birthday presents, only mine were double duty, birthday and back to school needs.
The other problem I had with the whole back to school thing was that the stores had back to school signs all over the place; their racks and shelves were chock full of back to school things. Shopping with mom in the summer consisted of looking at all sorts of sweaters, wool skirts and the fabric to make fall wardrobes. These things did not show up in September, they didn't even wait until mid August, they were there in mid July or sooner, depending on the store - the fancier the store the sooner the fall wardrobe selections showed up.
Most times it didn't bother me because I liked fall so much, but sometimes I felt rushed, I didn't hate summer or even dislike it, so what was the stinking hurry to get it over with? I remember complaining once to my mom when we were in a particularly fancy store in the women's department, of course there were no signs saying back to school, but there where definitely fall clothing on every rack in sight. Well that complaint lead to one of my biggest life lessons.
My mother gently, methodically and for most of the rest of that day explained seasons to me. She explained that in order to enjoy the season many people had to think and plan for it well ahead of time. She explained that farmers for instance rarely did things that weren't really about what was going to happen six months from now.
She explained to me that grownups have to plan and think ahead and that it was only a child who could get away with taking one day at a time purely as it comes to them. Her words have stuck with me and when I find myself a victim of my own procrastination her words indite me. Only a child who has someone in their life pre-planning can blithely skip through life enjoying each isolated moment. But even children do a little future thinking, they certainly anticipate even if they are not planning and working toward a good outcome.
Now I know dear reader that you want to whip a Bible verse out on me and so I will beat you to it. Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
However, the key lies in the verse prior, there we see that it is not talking about only dealing with each day one by one, but of putting God first, resting in His best for us, it is not about not planning or planting "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." The verse is really speaking of attending to what you are to attend to and to not worry.
Ahh the key, not to worry. Not to fret, not to get our panties in a wad and freak out about what is or isn't getting done. The Bible warns sternly against the danger of worry but worry is not the same as preparation. The Bible does not condone childish flitting from one day to the next as our whims drive us along. The Bible does not condone the idleness that results in poverty, of the cupboard or of the soul.
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer and gather its food at harvest. Proverbs 6:6-8
My mom explained to me that just because the store mentioned school and essentially the end of summer was no reason for me to be upset and not enjoy the summer and look forward to the days in between now and the beginning of school. She said that just because she knows she has bills to pay in the future does not mean that she has to pay them right now today or have the money right now today. It means that knowing those things she and my father plan and prepare for his business to make the revenue it needs to cover what they know to be their expenses. To not plan and prepare is to invite disaster or, in the case of the farmer not planting his wheat, guaranteeing failure.
She took that day to bring up so many different industries that depend on at the very least a six month lead in. Being a farmer's daughter she leaned heavily on those examples and talked about not only planting so that you have harvest but all the planning and preparations that the farmer must do even to get to the planting stage, or the butchering stage or the milking, cheese making stage.
Retail, my mother explained to me, is even in the extra predicament of having to have the goods out so that people not only can buy them on time but ahead of time that the homemaker might also be prepared. She talked to me about how as a mother she appreciated the stores having the next seasons clothes out when it seems that the prior season has barely begun. It gave her time to plan and to budget out her needs, with her wants, with her ability.
Just because the store had beautiful plaid skirts and luscious woolen cardigans out in July did not mean that we had to purchase them that day. But even when we did purchase a lovely fall ensemble in August it would be silly to put it on when we got home and go out for a visit. When the store decorates their display with beautiful apples, Indian corn, cat tails and wheat stocks in July to get my mother to think about the up coming season, she in turn does not need to go home and decorate her home likewise. She would be silly if she did.
Just because the stores have Christmas things out the day after Halloween does not mean we must also decorate our homes at the same time. Just because they pipe in the Christmas music before Thanksgiving does not mean we need to go home and do likewise. Retail, like other businesses, deals with the next season before the current season is barely underway. But then perhaps we weren't meant to make retail areas the place where we hang out all day either. Retail is a place of business. Keeping that in mind may help if you feel cranky about their seasonal marketing displays.
If Aunt Suzie has her house decked out November first, with carols blaring on the stereo and pushing reindeer sugar cookies on you, making you open a gift and wonder where hers is every time you stop in from November first till her batteries run dead in mid December, then maybe you have something to get your panties in a wad over.
Worse yet, if the neighborhood puts a gun to your head or threatens to kick you out of the cul-de-sac if your house isn't decorated and you aren't hosting at least three holiday parties within the first week of November, then you ought to get your jockeys in a bundle. Those are our private lives, the lives we use the retailers to make easier and pleasurable. They are not the lives that should be following the retail business calendar.