By Debbie Lynn
Are you struggling with the holi-daze and their meanings?
You are not alone. Every year my disdain for this season grows. Disinterested in the hypocrisy, the money, the ever-present wants and obligations—the expectations to fulfill them all.
It is no secret that retailers are ramping up the holiday campaign earlier and earlier to grab our hard earned money—the all mighty dollar. They bombard us with sparkling guilt: snow filled promises of a better day; puppy-eyed excitement centered around a story (which I believe is just a story) and they laugh all the way to the bank.
But all of us—myself included, of course—we trudge through month after month of cosmic materialism. I use the term cosmic, because the advertisements manifest their way into every thing and every aspect of our viable life, beginning in late September.
The ads tap into our veins, getting into our minds, seducing us via twinkling icicles, peppermint mochas, and the devil of them all: shopping.
Try as I might to ignore them, I find myself getting sucked in, too.
They fill my head to the breaking point, and realizing this, I get pissed at myself. I haven’t figured out how to tiptoe around it—so I don’t.
And this upsets my family, for my adamant stance against it never fails to ignite. Still, I have no apologies.
“But you used to love this time of year, what happened?” they ask.
A lot happened.
But, saving you the bloody details, I’ll just say I lost my passion for a holiday lost in translation. What I want to share instead of ranting more is this:
That turning the revolt back into something special, true, and tangible, it begins and ends outside of the commercialized content that’s been attached to this season.
We can dig into our hearts instead of our pockets all year-round.
The needy don’t just have needs this time of year. The unfortunate (especially children) want so very little; the simplest of things that go beyond the coin–ones that we all take for granted. They include such things as a smile, a hug, a warm coat, shoes without holes, a new comb, or even just three full meals a day.
It is heart wrenching to know how much pain exists in our own back yard.
The most amazing thing however, is to witness the extreme graciousness in the homeless–the tired, the young, the elderly and the desperate. Those that live with nothing, yet have everything when it comes to simplicity of the heart.
Spend a little time with these souls, and your life will be changed. Does it solve the problems? No.
Will October through January be less commercialized? I don’t think so.
But if we make the choice to do so, we can all numb it out and go full throttle with a bigger campaign inside our hearts; one devoted to helping others, instead of obligatorily shopping.
It feels kinda right. Knowing this, I started several traditions with my family to counteract the seasonal hype.
Here are a few that I would like to share:
1. We make goody bags of fruit, warm hats, gloves, and basic hygiene products then give them out all year long. On a budget or not sure where to go? The Dollar Tree is a great resource to fill the bags without breaking your wallet.
2. Then there is my favorite “donation website,” KIVA – “Loans that change lives.”
A site that allows you to connect with someone in need, give them a loan, and have them work to pay you back. Once you have been re-paid, you can select another. The money recycles and a little goes a very long way.
3. The Giving Tree—pick simple requests from the tree that people (mostly children) have made and fulfill them. Fair warning, take your Kleenex; it is tough to read the wants some of these Angels have.
4. Find shelters that need donations all year-round instead of sending unused items to Good Will. Your local church can be a great resource.
5. Donate time (if possible) in lieu of money. Libraries, Nursing homes, local schools, churches etc. they all can use extra help throughout the year.
Giving certainly ignites during this season, but then dwindles after the New Year has come and gone.
Yet kindness and giving doesn’t need to be seasonal.
Keeping the spirit of the season alive beyond a few months really helps to cast a gentler view on the mass commercialism—it opens us up to what is truly important. It also lessens the assault, the burden of materialism that’s been forced upon us all.
So as I breathe this all in, I settle a bit and go back to the magic—the reality of what this time of year holds.
It is a gift, and yet ultimate irony; the sadness and joy side-by-side, magnified three-fold, as the holi-daze climbs into our tears, and out our wallets.
The good, the bad, and a child was born.
Santa (St. Nick) is watching, and the meek shall inherit the earth.
With one foot in the magic, the other firmly rooted in reality.
Editor: Jesse James
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