The only person who gets a gift from this season is the one who gives me BJ’s on a regular. If you haven’t blown me lately, don’t expect anything!
-=[ The Inner Holidays ]=-
“The holiest of all holidays are those… Kept by ourselves in silence and apart… The secret anniversaries of the heart.”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
The holidays are an opportunity for us to set aside our work and routines – to give ourselves permission to put away, for the moment, our problems and burdens. They are a time for joining with others in the celebrating of life. However, this is not such an easy thing to do. Maybe together we can learn from each other how to do it.
Perhaps our holidays are clouded by sad and painful memories of the past. We miss loved ones who have passed on, or with whom we have cut ties or have lost contact. For me, the holidays are a mixed bag because they are the firmest reminders of my past excesses. If anything, the holidays are sometimes more about excesses rather than the “celebration of life.” There is the excess of consumption, of giving in to attachments whether they are in the form of food or material gain.
This emphasis on getting and giving can become quite stressful: stores are invaded by a mob mentality that can be… murderous. And, of course, this is encouraged by everything we know and hold precious. To add to this, the core message of Christianity is somehow lost in the shuffle of ideological commercialism. It’s not about peace and goodwill; it’s really about — well, who knows? This can present an even greater sadness for those of us who may be experiencing financial difficulties, adding to the holiday stress. Fact is that the glitter of the holidays is oftentimes an ornate disguise for quiet despair.
It’s almost obscene.
What to do? Well, I have long ago learned that the holidays don’t have to be perfect. Sure, there is all this commercial crap diluting what is in essence a beautiful message, but I — we — can create a meaningful holiday. Perhaps we all can make that effort to turn within and share, not a material gift, but that piece of ourselves that connects us all: a small gesture, a smile, an attempt to reach out. It’s all within our grasp. At work, for example, a colleague suggested we buy gifts for the toy drive. Someone — no one knows who — is committing random acts of kindness around the office. Nothing extravagant, merely gentle reminders that people are valued for who they are. I received a letter telling me how much I was appreciated and it really meant something to me.
I once volunteered to work with people who were dying and whenever I asked them what they would do if they had one more year, not one ever said anything like work more, or write a book, or invent something, or anything like that. Almost to a person, they said things like they would those close to them they loved them more often, or they would walk in the park barefooted more often, or smile more, forgive more easily, reach out more — things we take for granted because we live our lives in denial of the one sure thing: we all die.
The real message is that a man – really an ordinary man, a mere carpenter — who never even owned his own home, who never wrote a book, or invented anything – a quite poor man, in fact – was able to change the world with a message of love. Now: that’s some gangsta shite!