For those of us who celebrate Christmas, for example, why do we put up a tree and decorations? Why do we fight the crowds at the mall to buy presents? Why do we bake those cookies we certainly don't need and why do we cook a huge Christmas day feast? Why do we spend a day writing out Christmas cards to send to our family and friends?
For one, it's traditional. We humans need our traditions.
One definition of tradition is "the transmission of customs or beliefs from one generation to another." We do many of the things we do over the holidays, because we have always done them and our mothers and fathers have probably done the same things. It's comforting to do these same things, and it connects us to our loved ones who are no longer with us. My Dad and Mom fought over the Christmas tree lights, and I could hear my Dad cursing all of the way upstairs when he was putting up the tree (my Dad didn't actually curse, but there was a great deal of under-the-breath-mumbling) and so, too, Hubby and I fight over the lights. Hubby really DOES curse.
When I trim the tree, many of my ornaments came from my mother who loved them and loved giving them. As I pull out each one, I think of her and spend some time remembering.
So carrying on these traditions is comforting and brings back our memories of loved ones and happy times.
The holidays are about family whether you like it or not.
Holiday gatherings have gotten a bad rap, I think. Saturday Night Live has done a funny sketch where the family is seated at the table and snarls over everything that is said, especially upsetting Kristen Wiig's character, who gets up from the table every few minutes and threatens to stomp off.
Here is a recreation of that sketch. Does this look at all like your family during the holidays?
Despite the humor in that, yes, the holidays can be stressful if we are gathering with people we only see during the holidays, but I have far more happy memories of growing up with my parents and with my own children than bad memories, though I do remember my brother at the table baiting me to the point of tears and my running upstairs and locking myself in the bathroom. My family wrote that off as my being "high strung." How about writing that off as my brother was a bully?
But I also remember that even though I was served last at the Christmas dinner (because I was the youngest), my Dad always saved me the drumstick. My favorite.
Thoughtful gifts are always appreciated. My father was one of the most thoughtful people.
If you saw something in a shop window while walking with him, he would remember that and get it for you as a present. One year, I really wanted a canopy bed for my dolls and sure enough, Santa brought it. What I was doing still playing with dolls at 11, I don't know. When I see eleven-year-olds these days, they sure aren't playing with dolls. We didn't mature as fast back then, I guess.
But that is a particularly happy memory of thoughtfulness.
And along with thoughtfulness comes generosity.
Christmas certainly isn't a time to be cheap, if you have the means. And I'm not just talking about presents and money. Being cheap with money can also mean you are being cheap with your love, your time, your self. Being generous of spirit means sharing yourself - spending time with your grandkids, reaching out to others, being interested in others, going out of your way for someone, being a shoulder to cry on, volunteering your time, helping a friend in need, being there.
The holidays should be a reminder that we need to be generous with ourselves every day of the year so people have wonderful memories of US.
There is a great deal of fun to be had during the holidays - parties, caroling, enjoying the lights and decorations, watching cheesy Lifetime holiday movies, silly hats...
Going for the cheap laugh is also fun!
Amidst all of the holiday hubbub, it's easy to forget to be thankful.
I am thankful for my family, my career, the many good things in my life and all of the happy memories that I have.
Did you notice a theme?
It all boils down to memories. We create and have memories all of the time, but especially, during the holidays, new memories are created and those memories from the past come flooding back. We can spend time with our loved ones remembering our loving memories.
My first professional library job started in 1974 and was in a rural area that didn't even have any fast food places. The "department store" was a Sears catalog store. But one thing the town DID have was shops selling cowboy gear. I sent this shirt to my Dad for Christmas that year and he wore it proudly, because my Dad always wanted to be a cowboy. He sent me this picture so I would know how much he liked the shirt. He was thoughtful that way.
My Mother had a seamstress make an entire wardrobe for one of my dolls.
I have those chairs and think of my parents every time I sit in them.
My mother sent this musical Santa to my son. It moved all around the floor and played Christmas carols over and over. My son loved it. It drove us crazy. It mysteriously disappeared.
Every year one of the kids got to wear the Santa hat and distribute the presents on Christmas Eve. The cat is not one of the kids. She was the cat from hell...god rest her little soul.
It was a happy moment in the midst of change.
Let's all create more wonderful memories this holiday season.
I know I will be.
Thanks for Reading!
Have a Wonderful Holiday!
I will see you Friday for my review
of the new movie
and The Week in Reviews,
as well as the latest on my
"1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project."
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