The month of holidays is upon us; Hanukkah, Kwanza and Christmas; each with its own special meaning and unique traditions. The holidays mean such different things for different people. For those who celebrate Hanukkah it’s meaning is to celebrate the dedication and triumphs of a people who struggled to freely practice their religion. For those celebrating Kwanza the meaning of the season is to celebrate community, family and culture. And for those who celebrate Christmas the meaning the season will fall on a spectrum of celebrating the birth of Jesus to simply having quality time with family yet for others an extravagant display of all that can be purchased on Black Friday at a significant discount. Most of us are aware of how the meaning of the season has evolved over the years especially once commercialism grabbed hold of the idea and profits and bottom lines became the raisin d’être.
During the coming days we will be reminded of that reason for the season as we tune into those old movie favorites, A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Charlie Brown Christmas or even How the Grinch Stole Christmas. That reminder will be in front of us as we read the messages in the cards we receive or the songs that will surround us in churches and synagogues, as well as malls and restaurants. Each carrying its own message meant to remind us to stay focused on what is really important about this time we are celebrating.
No matter how we celebrate, the holidays have the amazing potential to take our hearts in so many directions. Joy, anticipation, excitement, fear, sorrow and even anger can be ignited at the mere mention of what is to come over the next thirty days. Those feelings are so easily affected by the circumstances of our individual lives. Deaths, divorce, separation due to deployment, job successes or job loss, births of babies, family returning home from faraway places, moves, and even old family wounds that just don’t heal can all contribute to a season that will either be celebrated or looked on with dread. Where are you in that mix? Are you entering this season with dread or joy? Will your soul be rejoicing or feeling crushed? Will you be doing well yet have a friend or family member who is suffering?
What can you do or what are you willing to do to use this time to heal your soul or that of someone else so that you can find some real meaning in this season? You can still find a way to bring meaning into your life even when you are alone or things aren’t going as you hoped. Yes, even if you are in the midst of a divorce this is possible. Here is an article that points out ways we make our holiday worse as well as some tips for making the holiday less stressful and more meaningful. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/contemplating-divorce/201212/i-m-dreaming-white-knuckle-christmas
As for me, this time of year is when I like to remind myself to embrace kindness, compassion, joy, acceptance and unconditional love for family and friends and also for myself. I am not saying that this is always easy, but it is certainly something to shoot for.
I would like to extend my warmest holiday wishes to all of you. Whether you are alone or with family and friends it is my hope for you that you will find your own real meaning of this season and as a result experience peace and joy.