Daylight Saving Time: The Gift of An Extra Hour, Once a Year


Spring forward, fall back.

Daylight Saving Time ends soon, and we will turn the clocks back in favor of brighter mornings, early darkness, and an extra hour, once a year.

The day we “fall back” reminds me of a day decades ago, when the late and legendary AP Language teacher Warren Allen Smith distributed a New York Times op-ed in a classroom in Connecticut. He asked my classmates and me to reflect upon Autumn’s Gift of a Tucked Away Hour. The “comedown” of fall, yet, with one hidden gift: an extra hour, once a year. An hour tucked away from when we lost it last spring.

Daylight Saving Time ends as early as it can this year. The first Sunday of the month is November 1, and to say I’m not ready to “fall back” (I’m already behind!) would be an understatement. But this weekend does pack a special surprise, that gift of an extra hour, that happens only once a year. This year I’m clinging shamelessly to my extra hour and wondering what it means for me.

What will you do with this weekend’s gift of a tucked-away hour? This year, I’m searching for something special – while knowing that I can’t get too lofty. My plans need to be realistic. I’m not going to learn Spanish, launch a new and everlasting diet plan, or in any other way change my life (or the lives of others). But there are a few things I could do…

Recover from Halloween

November 1 is preceded by the night of October 31, and as my son, age 17, and daughter, age 14, get older, memorable costumes are replaced by loosely-formed plans for socially distant gatherings and shadowy references to bonfires. One drives and the other still rides with me – either way, their social life on this night is cloaked in extra folds of worry about my son scaring little kids and my daughter getting wrapped up in friends’ Halloween drama. On Sunday, I’ll need sleep from a fitful night before.

Self-Care (it’s even #SelfCareSunday)

Summer’s cooling eucalyptus face peel may still feel good, and my very favorite Banana Hair Mask fills the shower with tropical steam. Peppermint foot lotion for the win and time spent supine at yoga or on the foam roller. Should I take a bit of extra time to prepare myself for winter? I certainly should care what I look like. Maybe my self-care goal will be to change out of my sweatpants instead.

Moms always find trails, it’s true

darkened path through autumn hardwood forestA walk, the earthy smells of leaves and cold dirt. So many of us are called to this meditation with the Earth. Maybe that’s what I will do with my extra hour. I wish I could say I would use this extra hour to get an early start up a mountain, and I had been training for this all summer and fall. Or I’ll be crushing my PR at the gym. But alas, that’s not to be. Maybe a walk will happen.

Extra time for patching and connecting

Will my extra hour give me time to connect with the friend from summer 1990 whom I think of from time to time? Offer an olive branch to the woman who was my dear friend for 20 years but suddenly, inexplicably, disappeared (She must have misunderstood…)? What about those people who aren’t on social media and must have been in my life at one point. Who are they again? Connecting takes so much energy.

Try out all those recipes

Easy one-pot Massaman curry, African stew, “the best” (certainly better than mine) baked beans – all those links saved from Facebook posts, magazines, websites, and blogs just continue to simmer in a crock-pot of random dinner wishes. Maybe this gift of an extra hour will give me a chance to give them a try. But don’t I cook enough?

Organize and update – a likely story!

A box of random high school memoriesThe author of the original New York Times column contemplated organizing the childhood photos of a man and a woman, her now-grown children, and throwing away old checkbooks. The digital revolution helped solve the need for these outdated relics but it didn’t make us any more organized. There are also three boxes of high school and college memories that my sister dumped under my bed upon the final sale of my late parents’ house. Those things haunt me, just like Warren Allen Smith’s assignment from 34 years ago.

This is all too much for just one extra hour, once a year. I could go into a whirlwind of accomplishment, but more than anything, it feels like it’s time to take a break. It hasn’t been an easy time.

I’ve never dealt well with this sudden shift of consciousness, and afternoon darkness which lasts all the way until the December 21 Solstice and then ever so slowly starts moving in the other direction. It’s a new way of life, visited upon us each year but always startling. The morning light is not bright enough to make a difference, and my day ends even earlier than usual. Each year, I watch this spoof movie trailer and laugh – and then cry.

The one bright spot is that the end of Daylight Saving Time gives us this gift of an extra hour, once a year. Every year at this time I think about Warren Allen Smith and his hope to inspire high school students, perhaps more as humans than as achievers. Maybe I should spend my extra hour thinking about my most memorable teacher, Warren Allen Smith, and the gift of love of words that he gave me. Cheers, Mr. Smith.

What will you do with the gift of your extra hour this year – if anything, at all?

Forest path in a hardwood forest during Daylight Saving Time

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Vicky Parra Tebbetts
Originally from Connecticut, Vicky lived on a farm in Cabot for 22 years before recently moving to South Burlington seeking greater opportunity in high school education. She is a mom to a teen boy and girl, and a Goldendoodle who grew up to look more like a poodle. A reticent soccer mom and former lawyer who owns her own marketing and communications business, she spends most of her work time playing with words. She mourns the demise of the serial comma. Don’t ask her if she passed the bar exam (she did) and why she doesn’t have her own website if she writes them for others (she’s been working on her own site for about six years). She’s outside every day, and you may find her sitting in the sun in January, wrapped in blankets. Swinger of birches and lover of all things Vermont, she hikes, paddles, cooks gluten-free and vegan food, reads meaningless novels, and is a recent Pilates convert. She loves to visit her happy place any time of year in Ogunquit, Maine.


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