Has Christmas the past few years had you saying “Bah Humbug”?
Does the fact that stores start putting out Holiday decorations before the Halloween costumes even hit the shelves make you want to scream?
Do you find yourself hiding behind that large family of 7 walking into the store in order to avoid the Salvation Army bell ringer?
Have you turned into a Scrooge?
I can’t blame you. This has always been my favorite time of the year. I love all the caroling, the decorations, the church programs, and watching all the old children’s specials whose special effects would make a Pixar guru laugh.
Yet somehow the joy of this season keeps getting sucked out a little more and more each year.
Part of it (a big part of it) is the blatant commercialism. You can’t turn on the tv or radio without being hit with some “must have it” toy or gadget. Every single store out there is having some kind of “1 day only sale” – of course these sales happen every Saturday, so I wonder as to whether the PR or management department is the one who is confused. Then to top everything off, they have taken my beloved music, those wonderful Christmas carols and turned them into beer commercials!
It’s no wonder that our kids are all about “gimme, gimme” – everything they see is about these amazing toys that they must have to be the coolest kid on the block.
And poor Santa Claus! What has happened to this beloved, jolly elf whose sole purpose in life was to bring joy to kids all over the world? We have managed to turn him into the biggest mass marketer there is – AND the boogeyman all in one. “If you don’t behave – Santa’s not going to bring you anything…”
So let us all take a deep breath, sit down for a few minutes, be quiet, and think about what this season is about. Since this site is for people of all religions I’m going to skip over the religious aspect, and talk about the “spirit” of the season instead. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or no particular holiday – you can still have an appreciation for this beautiful time of year.
Surviving the Malls: Ok – this is the part I hate the most about this time of year. Actually I hate shopping at the mall period. BUT, I actually love finding gifts for people, especially when I find the one that is just perfect. SO focus on that while you are shopping. Instead of making a list of “gotta gets” – go with an open mind and have fun, look for things that speak to your heart. Smile at people in the stores. They are just as harried as you – and it is amazing what a smile can do. You may be the only person that is nice to them that day (including the salesperson). Also if someone says “Merry Christmas” to you, and you don’t happen to celebrate that particular holiday – take it in the spirit given, don’t bite their head off, they are probably just trying to be nice. On the other hand, if you see a man wearing a yarmulke or a person wearing traditional Kwanzaa garb – be thoughtful and wish them a “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Kwanzaa” – they probably don’t hear that very often.
Stop and listen to the school bands and choirs that are singing and playing. They are very proud of what they are doing. It also may cheer your day. Go look at lights – they’re pretty. Tell a Santa you appreciate him. Keep a few dollar bills or quarters on you to drop in the Salvation Army bucket and speak to the bell ringer – they are volunteering to stand there and have people ignore them.
Family; we’ve all had a full year with our loved ones. Some of us have lost family members, so this is a wonderful time to remember them with love and laughter – celebrating their life. Some of us have had falling outs with family members, this is a good time to give that relative a call and let them know you still love them. You don’t have to agree with them about everything, but there is enough hate in this world – don’t ever give up on what love there is. Some of us have had new lives come into our, this is a time to be grateful for those. Be it a new baby, a new spouse, or simply a new friend – let them know how much you appreciate having them and what light they have brought into your life. And finally, those family members that are always with us, the ones that go through the everyday ups and downs. These are the most precious.
These are the ones to sit down with on Christmas. Maybe before each person opens a present have everyone else in the family say something that they love about them, or do it the other way around. Every time a person opens a present they must say why they love the person whom the present is from. Spend the day together, play games, pop popcorn, watch a movie with everyone cuddled up on the bed together – love each other.
Celebrate Christmas; the love, the peace, the joy.