It’s Christmas time, again: that Season of great expectation, goodwill, charity, and severe depression. For many there will be the dinners with family, travel, parties to attend, gift swapping, religious services, and the resulting exhaustion. For some, who have no family and few friends with which to share these rituals, or who are indigent, or sick, it will be a lonely time…much lonelier than the other days, due to the huge presumptions heaped upon the Holiday.
I am one of the lucky ones. My Mom and Dad made many special Christmases for me, and so have my friends and loved ones since I left my parents home so many years ago. I am surrounded by people who buy me gifts and put every effort into making my Holiday superior each year. My daughter listens carefully to what I might want all year long, and always gives me something that proves she pays close attention. So, my Christmas celebration is always filled with love and a generous helping of indulgence on all levels.
Having said all that, why is there still a feeling of some trepidation as we approach December 25th? Why do most of us get a twinge here and there, and a nagging feeling that we must fight off the Blues before it gets a hold on us? My best guess is that with all the hype and commercialism of this time of year, we face those aforementioned presumptions head on. We cannot ignore that we are supposed to be with those we love, sharing the chestnuts that are roasting. And maybe some of them are no longer with us. Maybe we reflect on those treasured memories and it hurts just a little more during this Season. So, we bake more cookies, buy more stocking stuffers, and put a hat on the Dog for his annual photo by the tree. Anything to keep the Grinch from appearing and ruining things in Whoville. I am not saying we sublimate our feelings or block them or deny them; I am just saying that I believe most of us find coping mechanisms each year to stay balanced and cheerful. Some people drink or do drugs. Others shop ’til they drop. I bake more cookies.
Whatever route you take, if you are like most people of a certain age, you find your way to the Star. I remember that during Christmases when I was alone and somewhat dejected, I would always put up a tree, decorate, wrap gifts, and bake. The rituals helped, and in the end, Christmas came, anyway, as Dr. Seuss would say.
So, what is the reason for the Season? We know that the original reason is to celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus, and all the miracles that followed his remarkable life. But if you take the man made religious parts away, and break it down to the basics, it becomes this: it is always better (and more fun!) to Give than to Receive. When you are a child, maybe you are focused on the Receiving end, but what adult cannot see that the joy comes in Giving? If you follow Christian theory, Christ gave his Life for Mankind. That is the ultimate giving. But even if you shy away from the religious aspects of this Season, it is still obvious that the real pleasures in life come from doing for others. Your family. Your spouse. Your friends. Your community. You are probably ten times more likely to give to the poor or volunteer at a shelter this time of year.
So, whatever your spiritual belief system, you can enjoy Christmas. It really is the most wonderful time of the year; because more than any other time, a lot of people are focused on how they can make someone else happy. They give, share, and contribute more. They stop thinking about themselves for a little while, and put others first. And while Flying Reindeer come in a close second, people striving for Peace on Earth and sharing some Goodwill with their fellow humans…that’s the real miracle of Christmas.