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“‘Tis the Season”

December 20th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

musingsThough there’s thankfully less holiday bunting this year than usual, it will certainly not slow down our mad belief that we are somehow to be happy because, well, it’s happy season.  As a child who endured one Christmas more miserable than the next, I always felt like Exhibit A that this was, in fact, the least wonderful time of year.  And what I found particularly horrifying was the idea that I had to buy gifts for people who couldn’t stand me.

I bear the scars of these experiences.  It is still difficult for me to give gifts, and celebrations feel like the stuff of science fiction.  My meditative practice has helped turn this around.  (Truth be told, my meditative practice has helped turn everything negative in my life around.  I have no idea how or why it works, but it does, and I highly recommend finding a guru or a center as soon as possible.  Consider it a gift to yourself.)

My feelings about the season have not changed all that much.  I still believe it produces great unhappiness and feelings of deep inadequacy in too many people.  And I still fail to understand how turning a page on the calendar should align with activities of the mind, but I’m only certain of my general ignorance so I won’t press the point too hard.

There is an alternative, however, and here is my proposal: Give gifts when you want to, to people you want to, because you want to.  Decide that late May is the most wonderful time of the year and spread joy then.  Donate your time or goods to charity in August.  In other words, practice compassion and generosity when you decide, not when a commercial screams at you that your happiness is available to you if only you’ll purchase something NOW.

I don’t meant to disparage those who enjoy the holidays.  I recognize the magic and power of tradition, and the art of the collective.  That we all shutter our doors at the same time has a distinct value, it’s true.  But perhaps these virtues can be extended throughout the year, when we choose, not when we’re told?

Just a thought…

For the Mineralava Musings, this is Edoardo Ballerini.

  1. I-Love-Rainy-Days
    December 23rd, 2009 at 23:38 | #1

    I myself have never understood this holiday. I have always felt it uses manipulation in order to succeed. Basically people are manipulated into thinking that their inner self worth is based on how much money they can spend on other people, money that they really don’t have. Because much of the population cannot live up to the standards placed on them by commercial giants, they view themselves as failures. Basically, tv commercials shove down the throats of parents that if they don’t buy the hottest gifts at any price, then their kids won’t love them. It tells people that if they don’t spend their food, gas, and rent money on mindless gifts for everybody they have ever come into contact with, then no one will like them. Because of this people spend, spend, spend, and yeah, it might be fun for a little while, it might almost feel like a rush, but just wait until those credit card bills come pouring in in January. This is when the dark side of said “joyous” holiday reveals itself.

    I totally agree with you on your alternate proposal. You should give gifts because it comes from your heart, and you truly want to. It should be a very personal experience. I also agree on donating services to charity throughout the entire year. I mean, the sick, elderly, homeless, and other less fortunate are hungry every day of the year, not just on Thanksgiving and Christmas. They need help all the other 363 days of the year.

    I love your blogs Edoardo, keep them coming.

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