Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Christmas is here, and I for one am glad that it has arrived. Hopefully this will mean a reduction in the nonstop mass media holiday blitz that ensues every year. But, in truth, it likely won't end until after New Year's Eve. That's when the world seems to go back to normal.
And that is both a good thing and a bad thing.
The Christmas holiday season, which lasts from the day after Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, tends to bring out the good in people. For the most part.
Yes, there are those of us who can't stand the glitz and the never ending commercialism. But we can avoid that by staying away from the malls during the worst of the holiday rush, and by changing the channel when that Christmas commercial we can't stand comes on for the 100th time.
But the truth about Christmas isn't about those things. It's about spending time with family and friends and finding the good things in life to remember. It's about remembering those that aren't with us anymore, and the good times we had with them. (Rest in peace, dear brother.)
Christmas is about faith, for many, and believing in something more than just yourself. Personally, I believe in God, but way beyond what the Christian faith tells me. God isn't based only on a book, IMO, but a way of living.
Many times I take that for granted and don't behave as "faithful" as I should. (The Lord knows I'm not perfect.) Hopefully I make up for these shortcomings at other times of the year by being a better person during Christmas.
Now, this attitude isn't the best way to live, but it is the way of the Western world. Especially the North American world. We live a very fast lifestyle and it tends to make us indifferent to the rest of the world, and even to each other.
Money is God for many on this continent, and that's too bad. There is way more to life than money, as I have learned over the last few years. I use to define my life by how much "green" I had or could earn. This was because I didn't know any better.
Yes, we need money to live in this world, but we don't need it every minute of every day. This is what the Western world has forgotten. Too often we define ourselves by the things we possess. Instead we should be defining our lives by what we can give the world in return.
I often suffer from this, as I'm addicted to eating too much and buying too many books and CDs. Yes, those things are great to have but they don't keep you from being alone. And I guess that's what I worry about the most, at this time of year.
I'm no longer 10-years old and struggling to fall asleep because I can't wait until Christmas morning comes. At that age, there is an innocence regarding the Christmas tree and the presents under it. Sure, we want to see what might be for us, but it isn't based on a need to consume products in order to feel like we have a life.
It's about paper, ribbons, and bows, and about the joy of opening a gift and seeing the wonder that lies beneath.
Now, I am 35-years old and struggling to fall asleep because my bones and muscles don't work like they use to. And there is no way that I'm getting up at 9am to open gifts unless somebody forces me at gunpoint. I have become an old person, and I often find myself scratching my head in confusion.
Where the hell did my "joy" and "wonderment" go?
That question rings in my head year round, even during the Christmas season. Yet, it is now that I often find a bit of that "joy" and "wonderment". The things that bring out those emotions in me aren't the same as when I was 10, but they are still there. You simply have to turn away from the commercialism, and look at the things that really matter — family, friends, and spirit.
It can be a simple as watching your mother smile at you when you arrive at her house for dinner on Christmas Eve, or feeling the "joy" wash over you as Paul Potts sings Silent Night on The Hour, or watching classic Christmas cartoons, that you loved as a child, with a sense of humor and nostalgia.
It can also be as complex as putting up the Christmas tree and decorating the house/apartment, or spending several hours finding gifts for your family. (Those are less enjoyable for me.)
For me, this year, it was being able to sleep in today, and not having to worry about whether or not a relative was going to knock on my door and say "why aren't you up yet?" I guess that's how Christmas has changed for me. I use to be that person waiting for the grownups to get up, so Christmas could "start already".
That is what I have learned. Christmas isn't about presents or candy. It is about taking time to be merry. It's about the little "joys" in life. It's about the renewing of faith in something more than wealth.
It's learning to love ourselves and each other.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!