Monday, November 17, 2014

The Holidays

Our clan is aging. This is what happens because, above all else, life is a living thing. It is constantly growing and shrinking resulting in inevitable change. As they say, the only constant you can count on is change. 

We have our traditions like most clans. But even those annual customs, that we have done our best to maintain, have often had to be adjusted for circumstances because... Life. Happens. 

I’ve always had a practical attitude toward customary convention, i.e., the holiday season. When I was still writing the I Was Just Thinking column I often slanted my November/December pieces toward those who might be stressed during the last two months of the year. Those who are in between creating traditions and/or have had life altering events in their lives that will force them, for whatever reason, to be out of season with the SEASON.

I speak of these times because I have had firsthand experience with them. In truth, for all the falderal that is shoved at us through the agenda driven commercial side of celebrating, every year is different and ought to be realized as such. In other words, rather than being owned and dictated to by what has been established as mandatory activity, why not just say no? Why not say, this I can do, this I can’t–this year–and it’s okay. 

It’s okay to celebrate in the way you can on a different day, if that is what is needed. It’s okay to forego spending money you don’t have to give gifts just because tradition (and commerce) demands it. It’s okay to choose to volunteer to serve others on Thanksgiving or Christmas instead of sitting alone depressed because things aren’t what they have been or fall short of what is expected by custom.

It is a tangible reality that all the years when everything aligned and the holidays fully met the fairytale criteria melt together into one warm fuzzy memory. Nothing in particular stands out. The remains are found in a collage of old photos and videos and fading glow of joy that takes some mental calculations to recall what year that was. Interestingly enough, it is the stressed years, the years during upheaval, change, compromise and life flux that we really recall. These are the times when we’ve been tried, reshaped and ultimately refined. 

Ironically, if it were not for the trying times we’d have no contrast, nothing to inspire us to gratitude for the easier, better times. Regardless our traditions, it is  our gratitude that makes a day a holiday. Not the rituals performed on a set day on the calendar. Not the fuss and flurry and demands of making things perfectly perfect as determined by a formal praxis maintained to mostly turn the bottom line from red to black. 

I’m just saying if you find yourself in difficulty and things simply can’t be like a lovely commercial, celebrate in your heart anyway and know that the outward things mean much less than the inward things. 

The day after is just another day to give thanks as well.

For Him,

(1 Thessalonians 5:16) Rejoice always;  (5:17) pray without ceasing;  (5:18) in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward.  

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