Time is relative — and faster than it used to be

Time is one of those scientific conundrums that completely befuddle me. Trying to figure it out, the physics of it, not the daylight and dark aspect, gives me a migraine. Seconds pile on top of each other to make minutes, which accumulate into hours, and then days and weeks and months and years and millennia.

One of the most enigmatic aspects of time, however, is how much faster it is than it used to be.  Back just 56 or 57 years or so ago, the time from the first week of December until Christmas seemed an eternity. School was yet to let out for the long-awaited Christmas break. We spent unproductive hours at school cutting green construction paper into forms that vaguely resembled evergreen trees. We used red crayons to draw ornaments and settled for a white one to color in the silver star, often drawn with uneven points. These works of art soon graced the wall outside every classroom in the elementary school. Sometimes we drew names of classmates and would exchange inexpensive gifts at the last-day- before-Christmas-break party. It was a different time.

We probably had begun to rehearse at church for the annual Christmas pageant, but how much practice does it take to wear an old, too big, bathrobe and a fake beard? Shepherds were not a talkative lot, apparently. Wise men just walked in, regally, and placed some gold-covered candy and someone’s mom’s old perfume bottle on the stage next to the homemade manger. The minister took care of the narration.

Sunday sermons, by the first Sunday in December, had changed from the usual “sin, sex and fear of hell” admonishments to a more hopeful tone. Hymns were elevated from “I Was Sinking Deep in Sin” to “Joy to the World, Goodwill to Men.”

Still, by the first week in December Christmas was still three weeks away. It seemed like forever.

Today is Dec. 8. If my math is correct, and you’d do well to check it, Christmas is only 17 days away. It’s time to panic. Only 17 days; I’m traveling for work all this week, which means by the time I get home, Christmas will be only 10 days away. See what I mean? Time passes so much faster than it did back in 1959. Tempus does fugit.

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