‘Tis the Season to Remember the Point of it All
On your mark…
And thus starts another holiday season which will see most of us running around like lunatics trying to be in too many places and doing too many things, all while pretending to feel joyful and in “the holiday spirit.” Sound about right?
How awful! Two months out of each year we should feel calmer, kinder, happier, more grateful, and instead we feel like we’re putting in a lot of overtime with no pay, and this generally makes most of us feel cranky.
And who or what is to blame for this shift away from humanity toward insanity? Commercialism, of course. We can all thank the big box stores and retailers for goading us into believing that our holidays will only be merry and bright if we purchase that flat screen TV or Keurig machine.
We can also thank Madison Avenue for the plethora of holiday ad spots that make us feel inadequate; that our family is somehow not “doing it right” – not as happy or wealthy or as perfect as all of those smiling families we see in the commercials in bright holiday outfits exchanging perfectly-wrapped gifts under a perfectly-decorated tree.
Let us all take a breather from the madness to remember what the holidays are really all about:
Black Friday – The New Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Can’t you just smell the turkey and the pie and the ‘biggest sales of the year’? “They” would have you believe this holiday is about the day after this holiday. Like, Thanksgiving isn’t even about being miserable with your family, anymore! When did that happen? I used to love being miserable with my family.
Nope, “they” would have us believe that Thanksgiving is about getting up at an un-Godly hour the next day to stand in any kind of weather so we can fight, sometimes physically, with the general public in order to get 30% off of stuff we don’t really need and that will put us further into debt.
But that’s not what Thanksgiving is about. It really is about spending time with our miserable loved ones and trying a little bit harder to not be so miserable. Okay, sure, maybe Uncle Stan drinks too much beer and smells like beef jerky, but he’s the only uncle you have left and he won’t be around forever.
We often hear that Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful. Another way to say this or think about it is that it’s a day to stop taking everything for granted, which most of us do on a daily basis. Don’t take your drunk uncle for granted, or your cranky mother who keeps asking when you’re going to give her grandchildren.
Don’t take your health for granted. If you wake up on Thanksgiving without any pain in your body, don’t take it for granted, because there are plenty of people who deal with chronic pain.
If you can live an independent life, don’t take it for granted.
If there are people in your life that care about you and you care about, don’t take it for granted.
If you have a job and can pay your bills, don’t take it for granted.
If you have a car that gets you places, don’t take it for granted.
And if you decide you still want to join the masses and shop until you literally drop on Black Friday, it means you live in America which still has some pretty great things about it, and don’t take them for granted.
What they would have you believe: Christmas is about being perfect. It’s about buying the PERFECT gift for so and so, wearing the PERFECT outfit to the Christmas party, decorating your house PERFECTLY, wrapping gifts PERFECTLY, being the PERFECT host to your guests, and baking the PERFECT cookies.
What it’s really about: Okay, bear with me here, but Christmas is about… love. Gasp. Now, love means different things to different people. Love can mean being kind. It can mean being thoughtful. It can also mean being forgiving. But it in no way means being perfect. To seek perfection in ourselves or others is not kind or thoughtful or forgiving. Perfection doesn’t exist, therefor it’s a really tall order for anyone.
This Christmas, forget about being perfect and focus instead on loving yourself and others as best you can.
New Year’s is one of my absolute favorite holidays, and not just because I happen to like a glass or three of champagne and dancing wildly to Taylor Swift songs. No, I like it because it symbolizes what every human being longs for deep down – a fresh start; a new beginning; a do-over.
It’s not just about losing those 50 pounds and buying an elliptical machine or treadmill or recliner bike or diet pills or Pilates videos and on and on. It’s really about pausing long enough in our hectic lives to take stock of our lives and figure out what we think and feel about them. Are we happy and fulfilled? Are we satisfied in our work and relationships? Are we making healthy choices and treating our bodies with respect? If not, how can we be more proactive about being our best selves and living our best lives?
This New Year’s Eve, besides making sure your bar is fully stocked and your iTunes fully loaded with the perfect mix of music, take some time to reflect on whether or not your life is what you want it to be and feel the hope and excitement a new year promises: nothing is set in stone – you are creating your life on a day-to-day, minute-by-minute basis, and you have the power to change whatever aspects are not living up to your dreams.