I came downtown tonight to sip coffee, look at stuff online, and, maybe, work a little while my sweetie has some time to himself in our tiny apartment. As I turned past the post office, I saw that the giant menorah is still completely lit. That's odd, I thought, last night was the last night of Hanukkah, wasn't it? After a few seconds questioning my decision to light all eight candles last night, I realized that the city must have decided to leave the lights on for extra holiday cheer. The giant metal menorah seems to have replaced the more common giant Christmas tree, and, perhaps, those in charge thought it would be festive to leave the lights (which were carefully lit one-by-one over the past week) shining through the holiday weekend. Letting it linger, as it were.
Personally, I also like to make my holidays linger. The longer it lasts—the more celebrating to be had. My mother's side of the family is Jewish, and my father's is Christian, and I grew up in a fairly secular household. But, we always celebrated holidays from both cultural traditions: any good reason to have a party, my mother once told me. We got eight full days out of Hanukkah (with a big party for everyone we knew on one night), and my family also found ways to string Christmas out for at least two days. When we all opened gifts, I loved to hand them out so that I could make it last as long as possible. We took turns watching one another open gifts, one at a time, and I loved the way the excitement lingered.
This winter I am with my husband. We aren't traveling to see more family because Dan couldn't get time off work, and the holidays really are an awful time to travel far. I miss my family tremendously, but I'm not worried because I still feel their love, even when we are far from each other. In some ways, the gift exchanging will linger even more. When, I wonder, will the package come? When, I wonder, will I finish the last bit of my holiday knitting and send it north? New Years, perhaps?
Knitting also has a habit of lingering. For example, take a look at the scarf I finished for Dan about three years ago. I have completely lost track of my original reason for making it. Was it Christmas? A birthday? Or, maybe I was making him a random gift. It took me years to knit this thing. It's a light weight baby alpaca yarn in something that I remember calling a "fisherman's rib" stitch pattern. It was basically a normal k1, p1 ribbing, but each knit stitch was into the stitch below, which meant that I had to LOOK at what I was doing ALL the time, and I wasn't as fast then. I know I worked on it for more than two years, maybe three. I think I began it around the time we moved in together, and added a few rows when we visited friends in the evenings, a few rows on buses, some time in a box, more after the wedding, more after the move to CA and the beginning of graduate school. Years of lingering with this as my primary project. Now, I am still wholeheartedly proud of its warmth, beauty, and simplicity. What better sign of commitment and love?
So here is my advice, from a girl who is no stranger to lingering knitting projects: If you are still working on a holiday knit, don't be sad if it isn't/wasn't done "in time." Instead, see it as an opportunity to let the joy of the holiday linger. You will also be stretching out the holidays for the lucky recipient: in January, or February, or August when the present is done, they will get a special reminder of how much you care for them. What is central to the holidays if not celebrating our relationships with family and friends? There's no reason not to let that celebration linger.
Happy holidays to everyone!