I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what I enjoy about the holidays and what makes me ball up in the fetal position around the holidays. I think I have narrowed it down to a few key features.
1. The pressure to be perfect. Why on Earth is this so important to people? They want the perfect family holiday where everyone wears ugly sweaters, drinks hot cocoa and tells each other how much they love each other. They want the perfect gift to give that makes everyone’s jaw drop with how extravagant it is, or that will provide peace on Earth and Joy to all creatures. They want their family to shine like the star on top of the perfectly decorated fake Christmas tree.
The reality is, family isn’t always going to like each other. Some may even have a hatred deep down in their souls for one another. Resentment spills over and taints the eggnog. The entire holiday becomes just as fake as the Christmas tree. Which ultimately makes the people who dreamed of the perfect holiday get together disappointed and more resentful. Release those around you from having the fake Christmas, embrace the time you get with the people you love and understand the differences.
2. The “What about me” factor. The season can be a magical time of year; it is supposed to be about the generosity in our hearts and how we can share it with others to make the world a better place. Yet, I listen to people on the radio discuss how when they shop, they have to buy themselves a gift and in the same breath tell me how they don’t have the time or funds to donate to a good cause. The hypocritical manner of this just saddens me so very much. My own employer used to adopt a family every year and we would all as a team shop and get presents for each child, each adult, and enough food to have a nice, magical holiday; this year, my employer said it was not a good thing to do, because we needed to fund raise for ourselves. Giving of ourselves IS good for us. The slightest kindness to another creature causes positive physiological experiences; endorphins are released and start good reactions in our body. Doing good for those who need is good for our health! Alas, the angel tree at the mall is still loaded with paper angels, each with a child’s name, their list of needs and their list of wants from Santa, but the sales are booming from the department stores. Imagine being a child who wants to believe in Santa Clause, who has written a letter and discovers Christmas morning that Santa Clause didn’t come. It is devastating! Santa Clause is real! The spirit is all around us and is calling out to us to make sure that human kindness is a priority! Be that person who steps up and makes a difference. Listen to Santa Clause–make a child’s life better; give them hope. Hope changes the world.
3. What do you want for Christmas? I hate this question. I really do. Getting what you ask for can be fulfilling, if what you asked for is something you truly covet or need. Otherwise, it really is just saying, “Here give me X amount of money and I’ll know you love me.” Gifts should come from the heart. If you know someone well enough, then you shouldn’t have to ask. Only you know your budget, only you know how much time you want to put into finding and/or making a gift, don’t waste other people’s time asking what they want because it sets everyone up for disappointment. A gift given from the heart by someone who truly knows you, and gives the PERFECT thing means so much. It is more than the gift it is the feeling that someone in the world has taken the time to give you something thoughtful. It makes a difference.
4. Do not forget the homeless. In the Christian religion, of which I am not totally sure I belong in, the season is celebrated because of the arrival of our lord and savior in human form. How did he arrive? He was born to two parents who were willing to work hard, but had no place to stay. Frightened and desperate, they ended up in a stable. I see people on the streets of Baltimore all the time, some you tell are acting to make some money, but there are some, who I know in my heart of hearts have to make tough, desperate choices each and every day to survive. These people, like the Christ child, deserve our attention. Now I’m not saying open your homes, although in a perfect society that would be nice, but open your hearts to them. Look them in the eye and see them for the person that they are. See that they have made choices that were probably not so sound, and recognize that each and every one of us, could have made those same choices in their situation. Take a moment and make a difference to these people. Keep a blanket or some food, or gloves or a hat that you can give them to show them that human kindness does exist and that you recognize them for being one of us, not just an invisible person. Listen to Santa! Give hope. Make a difference!
These four things seem so very simple, yet so very few take heed. Take a moment and be grateful for all you have in this world. Then look to see where you can make the most impact. If we all did this the holidays wouldn’t be so painful.