366 days this year—as if by some miracle of sun and moon. And although this leap year can be pegged to a Gregorian calendar shift, what could it mean to our lives, right? An extra day. A gift of a thing. A chance to shake off the ordinary and take that 24-hour chance to stand in something new. Something remarkable.
What Will You Do?
Before you look to your neighbor—before you fix your eyes on what’s supposed to happen during an extra gift of a day — stop here for a minute: Everyone has their own remarkable. You have your own remarkable. Because you also have your own ordinary. Your own control measures. Your own autopilot settings that are certainly useful but often work better when you tap out for the occasional, sweet release. Even if just for one day.
"What If We Spend Our Extra Day in Bed?" my husband muses, which sounds like something it isn’t. Add three gangly children. Add boys who turn everything into a basketball game. Add my pop-straight-out-of-bed spirit to the mix, and we’re not really a bed family. So at first I thought it was a lackluster idea. Too easy, too simple. Except that—for us—it isn’t.
It’s downright remarkable.
Our day in bed isn’t about opting out. It’s about circling the wagons and tucking us all in close. I spent two years homeschooling our kiddos, and now that they’re back in traditional school, I occasionally long for the days when we piled around the house like a grand, rowdy amoeba. I long for all the sticky hands and bare feet and reading Narnia out loud on the couch. And I long for these growing, beautiful nutty kids to get wrapped up in their dad’s arms, since it’s more often my arms who get to hold them, and just sit in a tiny circle of a day that keeps us all shoulder-to-shoulder, eye-to-eye. So even though my first tendency was to take the extra day and run around the city, my husband re-awakened me to the small. The sacred.
We’ll write letters to our friends in other countries.
We’ll do somersault contests.
We’ll let the kids choose takeout and two family movies.
We’ll tell jokes and award the best joke-teller with extra legroom.
We’ll envy whoever gets the extra legroom and make peace slowly.
We’ll do pushups off the bedside and the parents will try not to care about winning but they will.
We’ll hold each other tight and someone will fall asleep.
Definitely we’ll wrestle.
We’ll daydream about building a house and how we’ll chop firewood, hunt squirrels.
We’ll tell the story of how we first met. The day everyone was born.
And we’ll end in the same place we started: all there, circled together.
Before February 29th blindsides you with its gift, consider what would make it your remarkable. Consider what would feel delightful, extravagant, out of your ordinary. And even if the ideas that pop up seem overly simple at first blush, but then suddenly begin to spark your imagination and make you beam with anticipation—well, you’re on the right track.
Make the day yours. Make it remarkable.
About the Author
Liz Bell Young is a writer and experience designer who wandered a half-globe before finding home. Now in Cincinnati, she's the author of "In the Wide Country of Love," publisher of Haven Magazine, and a contributor to Magnolia. Follow her life at @lizbellyoung.