This is the time the calendar of the ancient Christian church called “ordinary time.” The Christmas celebrations are over, the relatives have returned home, the leftovers are gone, the decorations stored for the year. The lights of Diwali, Solstice, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, too, have been extinguished, the ritual lamps and candleholders put away. The New Year has begun, but after the champagne has gone flat and the confetti has been swept up, and school and work resumed, it doesn’t seem so new, after all.

It’s ordinary time. It’s still dark and cold, and it’s still such a long time until spring, or even the next holiday, that it puts one in mind of the curse of C.S. Lewis’ Snow Queen in “Narnia” that it will be “always winter and never Christmas.” W.H. Auden famously called post-holiday time “The Time Being,” saying, “The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.”

But ordinary time needn’t be a trial or a curse. After all, when people come to the end of their lives, or when they have lost a loved one to death, isn’t it always just one more ordinary day that they wish for? And a recent Pew research study found that Americans stand out among other Western nations in saying – 44 percent of us – that a typical day is, in fact, a good day.

No, not necessarily a curse. Ordinary time – whatever you may call it – can be a blessing that gives us time to pause and reflect. If we can turn off the TV and tune out social media for a few quiet hours of ordinary time, we might find there time and space in which to linger with the memory of the winter celebrations and reflect the light they all have in common into places we may not attend to at other times of the year.

In ordinary time we might reflect on the holidays, whichever ones we keep, and on the ways in which their light shines into our lives and hearts. Can we see whether we are living in the light that we celebrated (of new life, of hope, peace, love, joy), letting it illuminate our actions and choices? Or have we put it way like seasonal decorations or tossed it into the trash like empty bags and boxes, or toys that didn’t last three weeks before they were broken and useless? Can we try, in ordinary time, singing one of the songs of our holiday tradition or of another’s, and really mean it? It’s worth a try.

In ordinary time we might reflect on the light itself, the message of new life, of hope, peace, love, and joy that shines through the diverse lenses of history and culture, of spiritual and religious tradition and story. Can we acknowledge that the light is seen in different forms and expressions around the globe and throughout the history and traditions of all people? Can we at least consider that the stories and traditions of our own families and ancestors are but vessels that carry a truth whose brilliance is so great that no one vessel can contain it? It’s worth a try.

And in ordinary time we might reflect on our futures, the days and weeks and years that lie ahead, and how we might make simple or profound changes – resolutions, if you will – to make them better. Can we choose to make resolutions not only for ourselves and the close circle of those we love, but also for our neighborhoods, our communities, and the world? Can we at least consider how we might be part of the solution to the world’s ills and not just our own? Can we make resolutions that might not even benefit ourselves, but bring light and lasting benefit to others? It’s worth a try.

Yes, it’s ordinary time. Yes, it’s still cold and dark. And yes, we still have the same responsibilities and challenges we did before the holiday season began, maybe more. But it needn’t be “always winter and never Christmas” if our reflections on the lights of Christmas, Diwali, Solstice, Hanukkah, and/or Kwanzaa amplify their hopes and promises, preserving and bringing closer to realization their promises in the ordinary times that lie ahead for us all. Just as our coastal Maine lighthouses use powerful lenses to reflect and amplify relatively small lights to make them shine a long way, our own reflection on the lights we celebrate can amplify them to shine through our lives and carry us and those around us through ordinary time and the many challenges it holds. It’s worth a try!

Andrea Thompson McCall is a retired United Church of Christ minister.