With scary jack-o-lanterns and jolly Santas sharing space at our local stores, Christmas and holiday marketing is coming earlier and earlier. It’s hard to imagine a need for advertising this early. Clearly we need more time to shop and prepare for the gift-giving season.
But do we? What is thinking about Santa Claus in October getting us? For many, it just extends the stress and worry of the holiday season. Personally, my family celebrates a Christ filled Christmas. At least we try. It is often a challenge to keep our family’s ‘reason for the season’ front and center. I understand that folks celebrate many different holidays at this time of year including Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, New Year’s. Some of these are secular holidays, some have been made secular and others are religious. But it is hard to imagine that the foundation of any of these holidays is to spend as much money as possible on things that we do not need.
Have you thought about the reason for the holidays you celebrate?
Christmas – a day to celebrate the miraculous birth of the Christ child, Jesus. Christians around the world celebrate his birthday by giving gifts to others, going to church, singing praise songs and spending time with family. They also remember St. Nicholas who secretly provide three girls the money they needed for their dowries in their hanging stockings.
Hanukkah – is an eight-day festival of light that marks the re-dedication of the temple after it was taken over by the Greeks and reclaimed by the Jews. At that time there was only enough oil to light the temple menorah for one day but the oil miraculously burned for eight. Jewish people around the world remember this miracle by spending time with family, giving small gifts and focusing on the triumph of light over darkness, purity over adulteration and spirituality over materiality. (source: chabad.org)
Solstice – is the shortest day of the year. In the past, bonfires and candles were set to coax back the sun. It is marked by festivals and celebrations of rebirth. The harvest is enjoyed as individuals prepare for winter.
Kwanzaa – is a seven-day celebration of African-American heritage. Families gather and exchange gifts as they remember the 7 basic values of their heritage: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. (source: National Geographic Kids)
New Year’s Eve & Day – a time to mark the passing of a year and the arrival of a new year. A time to reflect on accomplishments and challenges and to prepare for a year ahead.
How do your plans, preparations and celebrations fit with the reason of the holiday you are celebrating? Are you honoring your tradition or are you using the hustle and bustle to justify spending money, being stressed and holding on to unrealistic expectations?
If you were to return to the ‘reason’ for this season, what would that look like? How would you change your behavior? What would you do differently?
I challenge you to re-examine your approach to the next 30 days.
1 – Let go of at least 1 activity that does not honor your tradition.
Examples: refuse to shop on Black Friday, refuse to take on new debt, do not overextend yourself physically, socially or mentally
2 – Add one activity that honors your celebration
Examples: spend a day to reflect, serve others in a soup kitchen, light a candle, give a gift of an experience
3 – Invite someone to celebrate with you.
A common theme in every tradition is to share our joy with others. Invite a friend, family member or acquaintance to be part of your celebration.