For whatever reason, this year has been more difficult than ever for me to generate what might be considered by some as even minimal holiday spirit. Despite even my conscious efforts to find a spidgen of peace on Earth and goodwill to men, it has been an insurmountable chore. While the street lights and stop lights brink bright red and green, I sincerely want to rush home and hide under an accommodating blanket or possibly a piece of furniture until spring.
What is wrong with me?!? It’s the most wonderful time of the year. I heard them say so. Why don’t I get a glow and feel something akin to cheer? Have I actually turned into the archetype of workaholic miser with a cynical eye to every observed merriment? And what is a humbug anyway?
Well, that one, I actually know. The phrase so glibly thrown about now as a reflection on Dicken’s miserly antihero was apparently a common euphemism of the Victorian era. It meant something silly and not real, something told or used to fool the children and the credulous. It is a con, a hoax, or someone who participates in the same… wait, I think I recognize this…
You know, perhaps I have turned into Ebeneezer as more of my holidays have been filled with thoughts of what I no longer have in place of anticipation of what is to come. Is that why my heart has shrunk three sizes?
As much as I might resist, I have to admit that my thoughts have been a bit more grim this season. I’ve been drawn into ruminations and dread about finances. I want to kick the advertisers who convince the unsuspecting public to spend more than they can afford just to ensure that their loved ones continue to love them. When did we become so focused on spending instead of just giving? When did giving become entirely about your bank account instead of your heart?
In my efforts to get in a more festive mood, I actually thought that watching some of the offered entertainment options might inspire. I found myself becoming more and more disgruntled with the options. As much as I can appreciate the points behind the stories, it still seemed to me that the miracles, changes of heart, and general epiphanies towards goodness involved materialistic concerns. All the stories seemed to revolve around money and buying things or giving things back. It was still about THINGS and the stuff you use to buy THINGS. I get it. Honestly. Most of these tales are trying to show that being a miserly old @#$% leads to bitterness and unhappiness and the season of giving lightens burdens and brightens spirits… and really? It still sounded like you have to either spend money or get money to have all that joy stuff they exhibit accompanied by an orchestra.
I really don’t mean to be a sour puss. I just wanted someone, somewhere to show me that being happy and enjoying the season doesn’t require emptying my bank account or melting my credit cards.
Then I remembered one movie. It was always a favorite of mine: White Christmas. At least in that movie, the gift wasn’t about material goods. It was about getting people together who shared important times in their lives. It was about friends and family having a good time and showing respect for each other. It was about remembering good people and being there for them when they felt they had lost their purpose and usefulness. It was cheesy and sappy and it wasn’t about the most expensive gift. The emphasis was about spending time with the people who matter, not spending money on the stuff that doesn’t. So much of what the holidays bring to me in recent years is memory of people who are no longer here. It seems that as the years go by the gatherings of loved ones dwindle and the responsibilities, obligations, and things pile up.
I sincerely don’t believe that we need things in our lives to be happy or feel loved. I know that there are people out there in the world who don’t have even the bare necessities of living, and that doesn’t only occur once per year. My wish for this holiday season is that maybe, somehow all of us can recapture some of what we’ve have lost over the years. Maybe there can be peace and goodwill to all with enjoyment of what we have rather than a focus on what we want but don’t need. And take that generosity and goodwill with you through the whole year, not just a season. Giving should be something we do all year round, and it shouldn’t be limited to money. Give your time. Give your talent. Take a moment to enjoy those who share your life. Memories last longer than things…