The True Meaning...
As I'm writing this, it's December 24th, 2021 - Christmas Eve. Christmas has been the subject of conversation, decoration, and advertisements since Halloween at the end of the Great Month of October. Sure, some have been decorating for "fall" with their cornucopias, their multi-colored leaves, and their pumpkins and apples, but even before the 31st of October, stores were preparing for the "holiday season" with their pine trees, wreaths, and red and green everything!
The Holiday Season, generalized to publicly include the holidays of Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year's, is the "season of love, giving, and family". Christmas, the Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, is the holiday celebrated by my family, so as I'm writing this, that is the framework for my references.
I'm not going to lie to you. Today and this "Holiday season" is the most frustrating thing to me. It's likely the most annoyed I am publicly all year long. Why? Because people have greatly missed the mark on the true meaning of these holidays. No, I'm not talking about anything religion-specific, but the TRUE meaning - Reflection and Family.
The way I see it, the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years' holiday time, being at the year's end, is a time to reflect on the year that is closing in preparation for the year to come. It's a time to remember those we've lost and celebrate what we still have. It's a time to look inward to acknowledge our successes and recognize our faults to improve them. To grow and be better people. If everyone did this, the status of our society would greatly be improved.
We aren't even close. Worse still, we don't even try. Worse yet, our collective actions work further and further away from this goal.
I could write a book on how frustrating this all is, but I can summarize my thoughts like this: As a society, we have created a series of expectations about what "Christmas Time" should be. We think that everything has to be perfect; that we have to be perfect. Houses must be decorated with images of Santa and Jesus. The air must be filled with snow and angels and the sounds of Christmas carols. The same song being sung by 15 different musical acts played on rotation 24 hours a day and seven days a week for the entirety of the season. In fact, numerous retail establishments literally play Christmas carols all day, every day during this time of the year.
Also, there's an expectation of happiness and joyfulness that is expected from every single person you encounter although real life is still happening. My wife just lost her father after a long battle with dementia. One of my children talks about the loss of his grandpa every day. My friend just lost her mother days ago. I just read a story about a young girl, age 10, that died after doing a foolish social media challenge. If I remember correctly, the service for that young girl is today.
A family is burying a 10-year-old because she did a social media challenge on Christmas Eve. A family likely purchase gifts for this young girl only to have to bury her instead. May the Lord bless that family.
And while we're on the subject of gifts, gift-giving is the most frustrating part of all of this. Don't get me wrong, I love and appreciate a kind gift. I've received a bourbon glass and a notebook most recently and I'm incredibly thankful that anyone would think of me at all, let alone purchase something for me. But more often than not, people go out and spend money they don't have on things no one needs, to give to people who honestly don't deserve it. We put so much pressure on ourselves to provide the perfect gift or pressure to match the cost and the value of the gifts given by others.
Someone I know had a secret Santa thing going on at work. There was a price cap. This someone has always gone way above the price cap. Why? To paraphrase their explanation, "I just want to make sure it was nice."
Other times, I've seen people get so upset because the gift they received wasn't as nice (and by nice they meant expensive) as the one they give. The gift-giving that was supposed to be from the heart as a gesture of appreciation has turned into a You-versus-Me Who-Can-Out-Spend-The-Other competition. It hurts to watch people become so ungrateful when they probably shouldn't have received a gift in the first place.
And as bad as gift-giving has gotten, the buying of gifts is even worse! During a season framed by kindness, love, joy, happiness, family, appreciation, and giving, none of these characteristics are commonplace during the shopping process. I've been in quite a few stores during November and December, both as a customer and as an employee, and I've seen people behave in the absolute worst ways. People were rude, disrespectful, obscene, violent, belligerent, and just all-around foul.
To go back to your kids or grandkids and smile and teach joy and happiness like you didn't just cuss out a stressed-out overworked cashier 20 minutes prior over something that wasn't within their control in the first place is just sick. To visit with family and thank them for their gifts and for the opportunity to spend time with them ignoring that fact either before, after, or both, you called that same person a myriad of ugly names in the car.
This blog isn't to shit on Christmas. It's to shine a light on the hypocrisy of the holidays. To me, the only thing that matters on holidays is time with important people. No, I'm not going to dress up fancy-like just because it's Easter or Christmas. No, I don't need a meal with every outing. No, I don't require gifts and you just might not get one from me. If you do get a gift from me, it's the gift you get - be thankful. Please don't buy a gift for me solely because you received one. That's meaningless.
Some holidays have an ugly past or have different origins than the stories typically told, but understand this: I've created holidays and holidays have the meaning that we give them. This is important for two reasons. 1) You don't have to pressure yourself to live up to the hype of the holiday OR to follow through with what someone else expects from you. And 2) You can acknowledge the ugly history or origins of a holiday without guilt. Yes, I celebrate Thanksgiving Day. I fully acknowledge the ugly truth of what happened to the Native Americans at that time. No, I don't condone such behaviors, but my family's meal is an opportunity to gather and enjoy each other. I love all of my Native brothers and sisters, but please don't come at us for eating a meal on that fourth Thursday in November.
In summary, don't get caught up in all the drama of the holidays. Don't stress yourselves out because you have to meet someone else's expectations. Be kind to the strangers you encounter. Show compassion because the world just needs compassion. Don't put up with people who don't deserve you. Don't spend money you don't have to spend. Debt is not your friend. Enjoy the time with your family. The next holiday isn't promised. Give that important person one more hug - friend, family, or otherwise. Only give gifts from the heart. Have all the conversations - good, bad, awkward, uncomfortable, or whatever.
And more than anything else, remember to maintain your peace. Personal peace is more valuable than anything money can buy.
From the House of Moon, Merry Christmas Everyone! I love you all. Be sure to love yourself.