We’re supposed to wish each other … Merry Christmas!
A festive Festivus! (for the rest of us)
In one of those traditions, we’re supposed to wish for peace on earth and good will towards men and celebrate the birth of the son of God. In another we celebrate the miracle of a day’s supply of oil that lasted for eight days and nights. In another we celebrate the culture, history and core principles of our ancestors. And, in the last, we celebrate, well the creativity of Jerry Seinfeld.
For years, I enjoyed the holidays. How could I not. All the gifts. The smiling and laughing. A day or two set aside for sharing and giving. When my kids were younger — seeing how much they enjoyed the holidays (the benefits of being raised Jewish with Christmas-celebrators on one side of the family meant double the fun). As I grow older, however, I enjoy them less and less.
I’m a non-believer and want to find meaning in things. The “meaning” behind the holidays, depending on which one(s) you celebrate, mean nothing to me. I suppose I could find meaning in the value of giving. I could find meaning in the value of spending time with family. I could find meaning in, if nothing else, the spirit of the holidays.
Problem is … well, there are a number of problems. How many gifts do you buy because you “have to” rather than you want to? And does it really mean something that you bought crazy Aunt Mabel another sweater, just like the sweater you’ve got her every year for the last ten years? How many gifts did you buy not because there was a meaning to them, a sentiment of love and hope that went with it, but because, “oh, yeah, I gotta get something for my cousin.” How many of those family members that sit down at the holiday table drive you crazy? How much time do you spend during the rest of the year bad-mouthing and criticizing half of the people you celebrate the holidays with? And, why is it that the spirit of giving and sharing — the spirit of the holidays — is not something we should be practicing every day of the year?
Here’s my Christmas-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa-Festivus wish for you … think of it as a holiday resolution. Hold on to the “spirit” of this season for the next year. Every day, see if you can give a little of yourself to somebody in a real way. Not buying a gift. But, by sharing words, time and yourself. Call your dad out of the blue and invite him to lunch. Write a real letter to somebody you haven’t seen in a while, or maybe to the person you talk to more than anybody else. Not an email, not a text. A real letter, in an envelope, with a stamp on it. Tell your mom you love her. Leave your significant other hidden notes only he or she will find, with words that are meant only for him or her. Forgive somebody you feel has hurt you. Forget the pain. Look past the weaknesses in those around you and re-connect with the reason they’re in your life.
Don’t turn away from the panhandler. Stop and consider the reason he is there. At a restaurant, just because, leave a huge tip every once in awhile. When you really enjoy the service, let the manager know. If the food was incredible, let the manager know. At the grocery store, clothing store, or wherever you shop, lose your impatience and your attitude, stop for a moment and breathe. Ask the clerk how their day is going — not in a hurried, uninterested way. Actually ask the question and stop to listen.
A holiday resolution for you and I. Treat every day like a gift. Spread love and hope to those around you. Tolerance and forgiveness. Generosity of spirit. Get out of your comfort zone and do something different for the next year. It’s not about the holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. It’s about every day. Every single day. Make it special. For you and those you care about. And those who randomly cross your path.
Start today. Look around you. Who haven’t you hugged lately? Who were you less than considerate to this year? Who deserves better than what you’ve given to them (not in gift form, but in your time)? Find a way to begin to break down the walls we build around ourselves and reach out to somebody. Anybody. Do it. Today and tomorrow. Honestly and openly.