The End of Ordinary Time

Modern Work

In the Catholic liturgical calendar there are four seasons Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time accounts for most of the year.

In the secular world, ordinary time is becoming increasingly rare. Once upon a time people were available in their offices from Labor Day to Thanksgiving and from New Year’s Day to Memorial Day.

Then the return from the winter holidays slipped from January 2nd to Super Bowl Sunday at the end of January. Then the Super Bowl was moved to February pushing the effective beginning of the work year into the second month of the year.

The Presidents’ Day weekend evolved into Ski Week. We added Martin Luther King Day in January. Halloween morphed into an adult holiday worthy of missing work. Kwanzaa became widely celebrated. Ski Week came into its own when it no longer leveraged the Presidents Day holiday. Valentine’s Day became a de rigeur obligation for adults.

I was particularly struck by the demise of ordinary time this year when the Super Bowl came to my hometown. In my industry there is a big conference during the second week of January, so my tribe are all off-site, meeting or schmoozing or traveling for the whole week.

The following Monday was Martin Luther King Day. Within a week, San Francisco was closing streets to accommodate the Super Bowl crowds. The day after the Super Bowl marked the start of the Chinese New Year celebration, which is widely observed in the Bay Area with its large Asian population. The next day was Mardi Gras marking the last day before Lent and an excuse to over indulge all around.

The following Sunday was Valentine’s Day. The next day was Presidents’ Day. Throw in some local extravaganzas like the Mavericks’ surf contest and the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach and you come to the end of February with very little ordinary time to show for 2016.

March looks like it will provide a bit more ordinariness, although we revert to Daylight Savings Time on the 13th, an occasion that always throws me off for several days. St. Patrick’s Day follows by four days. The end of the month brings Easter, proceeded by Holy Week for the observant and followed by Spring Break for everyone. And then there is always March Madness.

Sometimes I feel like ordinary time has actually become an extraordinary occurrence.


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