Challenges of Christmas

“I hear that in many places something has happened to Christmas; that it is changing from a time of merriment and carefree gaiety to a holiday which is filled with tedium; that many people dread the day and the obligation to give Christmas presents is a nightmare to weary, bored souls; that the children of enlightened parents no longer believe in Santa Claus; that all in all, the effort to be happy and have pleasure makes many honest hearts grow dark with despair instead of beaming with good will and cheerfulness.”  ~Julia Peterkin, A Plantation Christmas, 1934

I found this quote when looking for a few “Feel Good” Holiday quotes. I have to admit that as far as Christmas has been concerned I felt that I’ve been slightly lacking in overall feeling.  Sure, I have had sparkling moments here and there where I see a hint of what I’m after, but sadly they haven’t been as all encompassing as they are expected to be at this time of year.  So it was with the desire to find inspiration, I did a quick search, looking for a quote or two to make me smile and put me in the “right” frame of mind.

It was then I came upon the above quote.  What interested me the most about this quote was not only its honesty regarding a few, small shared points of frustration with the holiday.. but what really stood out to me was actually the date.  That is right, the DATE  in which it was written is what impressed the most meaning upon me today. This had been written in 1939! That was 5 years before my Father was even born! Wither we like to admit it or not, this  struggle has been going on for quite awhile, and its not just me! This is not a “new development”. It has far less to do with the times, society, the administration, the country, and more to do with our own human nature.  I think we hang too much on our expectations of how we think things “should be”. It’s a downfall of ours. It is our sense of expectation that leads us to disappointment, and makes us view things as bigger issues than they really are.  An ego issue truly, our pride gets hurt when things don’t go the way we want, or when people don’t fall in line, and we get angry.  Perpetually children, especially in the instances when we are totally oblivious to it.

All my life there has always been kind of this over-lying shadow. The thought that as time moves on, we as a society get continually worse. When I was a teenager, it was my generation that was abhorrent and disrespectful. We were ruining the world, and that our values were askew.  As since my generation is no longer teenagers, the torch has been passed (a few times even),  and now I even hear people my age talk about how “the current generation” is on the road to ruin. I think I contend that they are really no worse than we were. The only difference is how honest they are allowed to be at the time. They feel they have a right to say what they feel, where we may have bit our tongue.  In truth, at their age, the reason we bit our tongue was probably less out of respect, and more out of fear of how our statements would be received. Of course some argue that fear is respect.. but that I totally disagree with and is a tangent I’m not going into at this point in time.

How fickle we can be, we decide as a country that their should be basic premises… right to religious freedom, right to freedom of speech, so we institute them for our future – in our most precious governing documents, but when those around us explore these  venues with different ideas, we suddenly seem to want to add the amendment of “as long as it doesn’t disagree with my point of view”.

This year I’ve been bombarded with e-mails of people nit-picking at each other.  Apparently there is a whole “War on Christmas” thing going on where people feel it necessary to take exception to how someone else chooses to wish them well this season.  Shouldn’t we just be pleased that people are wishing us well at all? Why should we care about what particular words they use? Should you really expect a Jewish fellow to wish you a “Merry Christmas”?  In the truest spirit of the season, how can you consider yourself so high that you should “expect” anything from anyone? This is the time of year meant to inspire humility, not self-righteousness. Humbly giving of ourselves, blessing, supporting, and loving on those around us.  Not reprimanding over plain term useage.. especially if we aren’t living up to the core meaning ourselves. Have we become so soft, as to be so irrevocably overly sensitive about this? Are we really in need of something else to complain about, or are we simply looking for something to blame. Possibly an impatience we ourselves have towards others. Being intolerant much?

By allowing someone to wish you Happy Holiday, does it really make Christmas less special, less meaningful to you? If it does,  I think that is an internal issue, a personal problem as it were.  Your spirituality is really a personal relationship between you and your God.  It has to be, otherwise the whole thing is a facade.. a show put on for, or else controlled by others -which deems it insincere.  Each individual through their own experiences has in tow their own perceptions on words, meanings, symbols, connotations of everything around them, including holidays. So knowing that, how can anyone realistically say that there is only one “right” way to wish someone well? Its like there is only one single way to express love to another individual. Oh! How we seem to continue to limit our own understanding and possibility of happiness with our closed minds!

Isn’t there enough to deal with that we shouldn’t be making up issues?

Sincerity in giving is another point I struggle with. Not to sound all “Bah Humbug” – like, but I get frustrated with the obligation of Christmas.  I love to give, don’t get me wrong, but I want to give because its in my heart.. not because its expected of me, and I surely don’t want people to think that I don’t care because I couldn’t afford to get them something from the store, and I want to give where its going to do the most good. I wish that the season was more based on being “Present” in our loved ones lives, than giving them just some gift we found at Wal-mart because it was expected.  I want Presence for Christmas.. not presents  🙂

Even through hard times, I think most are in truth far more blessed than what we give appreciation to. What reason do we have to be sad, except for our own self-made expectations for what the holiday should bring to us, and how others should act.  We should know better. Anytime we look to others to supply us the ability to be happy, we are setting ourselves up for failure. If only we quickly understood that any real satisfying happiness isn’t in what we get, but in what we give!

It is with this thought that I will endeavor the following goals this Season.

  • I will continue to wish people well, using whatever terms I feel are appropriate.  How they take it, and what they read into it is totally up to them, and may quite possibly be  as flawed as their desire to read anything more into it than what it is. A greeting of well wishing.
  • To strive to breakdown my own expectations for what Christmas should be, or should “feel” like,  and focus my full attention on blessing and being a blessing to others.
  • To allow an open heart, and an open mind in which to take part in a more gracious and lasting spirit that may not flutter away once the decorations come down around us.
  • To put my all into giving in areas that will do the most good, and be sincere in my intentions.
  • To know that life is too short to dwell on unimportant details.. not having everything perfect doesn’t really make the sentiment any less