Tis the season for rushing around, cramming last minute urgencies into the agenda, cleaning the house and preparing for visitors. Or maybe it is the season for messing up the house in the process of preparing for holiday travel that always seems to arrive quicker than our readiness to abandon the ship of our day-to-day lives.
Every year I say I am going to start this maddening holiday prep in August! Yes, in August… But I still haven’t successfully enabled that project. In the past, when I started my gift buying process in August, I’ve forgotten where I put those things, forgotten that I even purchased those things, forgotten that I bought so&so a gift already and then bought them more in November, forgotten that I even committed to that Early Prep Project and ignored it until November, or any of a bunch of other variations on why I do not ever commit to that Early Holiday Preparation Project fantasy. Baah!
Truth be told I miss the old days. I miss those days when Summer ended and there seemed an endless amount of time til Thanksgiving.
The excitement of Thanksgiving was a marker for the fun and anticipation-building momentum that led up to Christmas. I miss the fantasy of what Christmas and it’s festive holiday attitude heralded. Do you know that just a week or 2 ago I was driving in the parking lot of our local postoffice, which is a giant hub for the town Municipal Building and Library. I signaled to indicate that I was turning left to fit my way through an oncoming stream of traffic (!) Yes, traffic in the parking lot so I could make a U-turn. A man driving a BIG pick-up truck increased his speed to inhibit my U-turn, then he rolled down his window and told me I was ridiculous for using a signal in a parking lot, and ended with an eloquent and urbane command for me to “f” myself! And so this is Christmas… welcome to the new world!
This year, though, I sent out some holiday cards. Most of them were Christmas cards, but in committing to following the trend of substituting the term holiday for the word Christmas out of concern that I might offend someone, I generically refer to them in this way. In the last couple of years, though, I have shifted. I say both!
I don’t know if it’s true, but it seems that we Christmas-celebrating Christians started this whole commercial thing in the first place. Channukah was never a big deal holiday according to every Jewish friend I have ever had in my entire life! Kwanza, forgive my ignorance, doesn’t get much airplay, but I understand it is a modern holiday created as a response to the commercialism of Christmas and, though it stands for something very lovely and respectable, none of it has to do with the giving of gifts and hence creates neither the frenzy nor the money-making opportunities of Christmas.
When it comes to the donning of lights that turn cold, bland, bare-treed neighborhoods into spirit-lifting villages of happy, jolly, fa-la-la-la-lolly, we have to point squarely at the custom of Christmas to shoulder that responsibility. I ask you then, why can’t we all be celebrating Christmas? I contend that even the most curmudgeonly Scrooge can’t drive down Happy Lane at Christmas time and not get some spirit boost from all those glorious lights. The world (or at least my little world here in Essex County, NJ) is benefitting from the attitude of gaiety and lightness that is proposed when we take the darkest of the dark days and light them up with 30,000 LEDs.
And if my Jewish kin say “Happy Chanukkah!” to me with the happiest of intentions to share the festivity of their holiday of lights, I say “Thank You!” If my Indian Swami ji sends me wishes for a “Happy Diwali!” why wouldn’t I be touched and uplifted to learn of the highlights of a happy, spirited occasion to be reminded to smile and lighten up when days can be so demanding? If my African American colleague wishes me a “Happy Kwanza!” and the smile of pride and love on their face lifts the corners of my mouth a bit, how could that ever be harmful or hurtful? I do not object to someone wishing me a “Happy Thanksgiving” or a “Happy New Year” or even a “Happy Birthday” when it is not my birthday! The latter would definitely make me smile and don’t we all need a little more SMILE in this time of people blowing up people and corporations stealing the life force out of their employees one stressful layoff at a time?
Wishing you the Merriest of Christmases, the happiest of New Years, a joyful Monday, a restful Sunday, a Healing Winter Solstice, a productive week, a Full Moon of abundance, and a heart filled with LOVE.
About the Author:
Madelana Ferrara is a teacher of Yoga and a student and practitioner of its related disciplines of Meditation and Ayurveda.