The Christmas tree is back in the Christmas Closet. Almost all of the candy and fudge and holiday sundries are eaten. Our town still has its Christmas decorations up, but then again it is only January 2nd. Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale returned to work today. I remember returning from 33 Christmas holidays. I was always a bit pumped from the residual holiday cheer, and a bit apprehensive as to what surprises the New Year would bring. Often Budget concerns seemed to be paramount in January, for the University. The beginning of the calendar year marked the half way point of SIU’s fiscal year. This was a crucial time, especially if Spring Semester enrollment was down. Also, financial reversals such as the Sate calling back a portion of the, already appropriated, budget for the remainder of the fiscal year. SIUC, even in its diminished position, still is the economic engine that drives the Southern Illinois region.
The same could be said for many families personal budgets. Christmas is a time of giving…but sometimes we give beyond our means. When this happens, during the splendor and majesty of the holiday season, we believe that if we can purchase just one more present or enjoy one more party…or take the Christmas Cruise that we have desired for so long…all will be well and we will be happy…and our joy will be at its zenith. I recall the opulent 80’s. As I stood in the queues at the, thriving, malls in St. Louis, Missouri or in Carbondale, Illinois…I watched, sadly, person after person attempt to pay for their items with as many as 5 or 6 credit cards…before finding one that was not denied. In fact it occurred to me that the retail economy was being fueled by debt. I had a colleague that would say, every Christmas Season, that he was still paying off, ‘Christmas 1980’…if the current Christmas was 1990.
So, life has returned to the normal that we understood before the holidays. Regular, and normal, and to be expected…is good. I have found that the optimum times that I have been able to excel or improve have been devoid of the extremes of debt, or of actions that were spawned by emotion rather than rationality. As the manager/administrator of the housekeeping department at SIUC I sought to follow the clear road of success that my predecessors had trail-blazed…long before my arrival. Positive change is incremental. Watching positive change taking place is not dissimilar to watching a year progress. Looking out of my loft window as I write this piece, I see rain and a basic gray sky. It looks like January 2, 2020. It has the appearance of nothing happening. But, that would be a mistaken assumption. Everything that we are and everything that we know is in transition. I am morphing…as I am writing. The question is do we want to take the fork in the road that leads to improvement or do we prefer the road that leads to the same results that we have obtained throughout our life?
Every now and then we get a little spark of the divine! For a short time we see more clearly what our opportunities are, and what God’s purpose for us is. But then we get tired…and we become stressed…and anger or sadness or guilt or grief…steps in and we take a detour. Illness wrests our attention away.
But, today it is January 2, 2020…and it can be a good year…accompanied by challenges.