Holidays Bring Time for Reflection and Balance: Rooting the Self in What is Essential

HOLIDAYS HAVE SPECIAL MEANING FOR EVERYONE

These are the holidays… again… and as usual it seems, these holidays started two months ago… almost three, for from the end of October and the bare cessation of Halloween, holiday decorations and talk of Thanksgiving and Christmas pounced upon us like a dog out of chemical balance that hadn’t had its fill of Porterhouse steaks yet.

Stores began to fill up with decorations and signs advertising sales and deals. Mercantilism took a firm hold on the visual, the audible, the spiritual and the emotional. Spangled signals of those overblown holiday wants and wishes were stuck in our faces and until these same holidays are over we will not be rid of them. Spangled signals… tinsel, shiny cash registers, bows, glitter, wrapping paper in gold and red foil, electric lights by the strand and by the net, festivals and parades full of floats, fake snow, cartoon characters and corporate sponsorship lighting up the avenues and boulevards as though spending money was going out fashion.

Somehow something seems lost in the mix and muddle and hurry of the holiday season, something that has been broken from our senses in some sort of way. Some folks get the meaning and some manifest that in ways that others cannot understand.

For everyone, “the holidays” have all kinds of meanings. To one, it means that breakout and roll – out of corporate bling and gleam; for another it is the spiritual where one must be in a church or before a Nativity scene; and to another it means standing with family and friends watching the parades and attending galas and really cool parties stocked with good food and gifts. For adults it means one set of things; for children it means other sets of things – attitudes that some understand culturally while others only watch and think what certain rituals mean.

Holidays are times of symbolism for everyone, for those who believe in deities and those who do not. But they are special times for degrees of reflection and all manner of such and of beliefs and rites must be respected, for in America it is a right of everyone to celebrate as they desire, and to express themselves as they wish. Naturally freedoms and rights come with a price, and that price is personal responsibility.

Our Constitution guarantees every American citizen certain inalienable rights and privileges, such as the freedoms to worship as we desire (or not to), of speech and to assemble peaceably. We can pursue life, liberty, and happiness – really comes to a head during “the holidays”, doesn’t it?

The mercantile aspect, well, that is something it appears we will deal with each in our own way. Holidays are really meant to be sacred occasions, and have been for centuries celebrated without the need for millions of dollars spent on advertising and gaudy decorations to attract attention and bring people in to purchase stuff that will get broken, returned, or discarded or otherwise rid of by recipients. There goes to waste the wrapping paper and gift bags and the time and attention paid to getting those gifts looking “just right” and all pretty for putting under the tree and in the stockings. A lot of energy is wasted here in so many ways in some eyes, but in some aspects it is not really a waste.

For in this season of winter, there is need for something to remove the heaviness of the grayness this time of year brings. When there is less natural light and more clouds to fog up our views and visions, we act differently, we sense and feel differently and we do not act as our “normal selves”, being at times moody and taken in by disorders related to holidays and winters. Seasonal Affected Disorder is real and it hurts many during this time in so many ways. For many the solution to conquer the holiday blues is to get into the “spirit of the season”. Even this phrase has many meanings.

Some folks bring out the lights and decorate from foundation to roof their homes and shops. Others go to the store and stock up on food to cook for large parties (cooking can be very grounding and therapeutic and settling and is a social activity to be shared). Others just “go for it” and raid the stores after just the special gifts for those on their lists. They will spend hours and wear themselves out in that search… and then after that they need the food waiting for them at home, victuals that someone spent hours preparing.

In the end what matters? Is it the sales, the deals, the specials and the material things? Is it the lights, the paper, the bows and the bags, the stockings and trees and ornaments of fragile glass? Is it the decorating and the big dinners?

Be grateful and joyful in all these things, and I think you will understand what matters in the end.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

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