The Holidays Are Upon Us - It's about your outlook. No need to make them difficult.
Here we go again again. Another round of holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukahh, and New Years. For other cultures, there are more. Depending on your faith, you may celebrate only one. However, in a multi-faith relationship, you may celebrate more than one during the same season.
I've read many social media posts where people are concerned about how difficult the holidays may be this year with inflation being so high, and the rising costs of things. Many people do not care. They celebrate and spend the money anyway, whether they can afford to or not. Welcome high credit card debt. Others may not be as fortunate and cannot spend what they do not have, or do not have the credit available to use. During these times, many people are already close to maxing out their credit limits in order to survive from week to week. I guess the question we need to ask is, what is important? That is what this blog post is about.
HAVE WE LOST TRADITION?
Wow, wasn't it nice when we were kids and didn't have these finanacal worries, and didn't have to cook and buy all the food? With that said, people love to give. Why not, it's the season of giving. But it falls at a difficult time of year for most. The next tax payments are due along with other bills. Also, people love to receive. Isn't that is the process of gift-giving? The process of giving and receiving. We also live in a society where the dollar amount spent determines the thought put into the gift. Again, why not? It's a dollar and cents world.
However, it is not just about the tradition of exchanging gifts; it also involves the cost of the food, the wine, the drink. Trust me, being 100% Italian, I am well aware of the costs of putting out a feast for a mid-size family. In years past, before 8.3% inflation, it was much easier for many families, and still, many had to cut corners. With 3 in five Americans living Paycheck to paycheck, (1), it creates a much bigger challenge to stretch the almighty dollar.
How many remember the days of Chrtistmas Clubs? Back in those days, raising three children, I did a Christmas Club through my bank every year. It was nice to get that check in October. However, today, most cannot afford it. Many are fortunate to live a comfortable lifestyle. However, that does not represent the majority of the working class population. During these challenging economic times, airlines, hotels, car rental establishments, and others, take advantage of the holiday traveler by jacking up their prices during the holiday season. SO much so, that this year, I know of there of my friends that cannot afford to travel to see their family living in another state. That is sad. In my opinion that is a form of price gouging, and there should be a law against that.
At least at Thanksgiving you get a break and only have to buy the food. However, each culture is different and celebrate their holidays differently. There is no right or wrong. Therefore, what is the tradition? Simply put, your tradition is what is and has been traditional for your culture and your family. It is how you were raised that leads to your tradition.
Did you know that during the holiday season, it is considered to be the most depressing times of the year for many, and yes, patterns of increased rates of depression during the holidays have been documented by doctors and mental health professionals for years. (2) Mmany factors affect this issue. Missing loved ones that have pssed, spending a holiday or being alone, not being able to afford to do what you would like, just to name a few. Think about this, is it possible that people forget the most important meaning of any holiday? Being thankful. YEt, being thankful is or should not be limited to holidays. Each day you wake up with a heartbeat and are breathing, you should be thankful. If you are not, I am sure there are many who no long do that would gladly exchange places with you. We'll be talking more about that in a minute.
Look at this comparison. If a family has a picnic, family and friends are invited. Everyone brings something to eat or drink. No monetary gifts are exchanged. Everyone has a great time. Why? Because there is no pressure of gift giving and receiving a gift at a picnic. The truth is, everyone is giving and receiving a gift they don't even realize they are experiencing. That gift is love, friendship, companionship, and enjoying everyone's company. Aren't they giving and receiving the best gift there is to give and receive? Through the food everyone brings and the love and companionship shared amongst the people attending, why should a holiday be any different? You see,
IT'S ALL IN YOUR OUTLOOK AND PERCEPTION OF THE EVENT.
Allow me to clarify. I am NOT saying the exchanging gifts is bad. What I am saying is people should not place a dollar amount on a gift. People should not have to work all year to pay off their debt from last years holiday just to make it again. Place your stock in the moment, the thought, the people, rather than what is in the box and how much it cost.
Let me ask you. Can life partners put a value on their love, or their love for their children? Of course not. It's priceless. If that is true, why as people, do some place such a high monetary value and gauge how much a person cares based on the git they received or buy?
Here is the route of it. Gifts should never be valued by the dollar amount spent. The old saying, "it's the thought that counts" is true. The time and consideration in getting the right gift for a particular individual is worth far more than the dollar amount spent on it. Once again, depending on your culture, children are raised to believe in Santa Claus. If you are good all year, you will get presents; if not, you get coal on your stocking. Therefore, these concepts probably do not apply to children. However, if you are a parent, we always want our children to have a lot of presents to open. That is perfectly normal. However, teachng them to be thankful for what they received is far more important than the number of things they receive. My parents couldn't afford to do for us what I did for my children. Times were different. Just like now. Times are different. Besides, as children, they play with a toy for a week, and either break it, or forget about it.
Being thankful is the greatest lesson and gift we could pass on to our children. I was raised to be thankful for what I received and not to expect the world wrapped in a basket. As adults, this is one of our responsibilities. What we teach our children they will pass on the theirs. That is how tradition is made and evolves. Traditions will change as families merge and times change. However, there will always be a sense of what a particular holiday brings regarding the traditions you were raised by.
Most know on certain holidays they make certain special dishes. Dishes that you generally have only on that holiday. That is another thing that makes a holiday special. But beyond food and presents, there is so much more to be thankful for. The fact that you are still here on this earth enjoying the holidays with friends and family. Being thankful for those serving our country or those that have to work on a holiday and cannot be with their family. A sacrifice they make for us. As a firefighter, I missed many holidays with my family depending on how my work rotation was during that holiday. These people do this willingly because someone has to do it, they care about others, and they love the work. Just think of what kind of world we would live in without these dedicated men and women.
If I haven;t said this a thousand times I haven't said it at all. "Being thankful is not a concept, It's a way of life. A lifestyle." These three words are important. That forged the foundation. THANKFUL, GRATEFUL, and BLESSED. When we are thankful for what we have, we stop looking at what we don't have and become much happier people. Our stress level is reduced which opens our minds to happiness. Each day I tell people the news is our worst enemy. We need it to be informed, but it's depressing. The politics, the crime, the death, the destruction. Not only in our country, but globally. However, even with that, if you give in to being thankful that many of those things are not affecting you directly, you will still feel bad for those that are affected, but you won't fall into the trap of be depressed. Why? Because you are thankful for what you have and the life you lead. Remember, whenever you think you have it tough, someone has it tougher. Just walk through any cancer ward or hospice building.
In this self-help topic as the holidays approach. My wish for everyone is to be thankful, feel grateful and blessed for all you have. Life in itself is a blessing denied to many. Do not judge your happiness by a dollar amount. Do what you can do from your heart. That is the greatest gift you can give someone, and seeing them happy, should be the greatest gift you can receive. Holidays are not the time to be stressed and depressed. They are a time for joy, excitement, and celebration. A time to be happy.
Each year, as the holidays approach, my sister and I talk about how different they feel now that our parents have passed. The same conversation I'm sure many siblings have. Of course, part of that is selfishness because our parents did mostly all the work when they were alive. But seriously, it is different. There is a part that is missing. When the transition occurs from being the children to being the parents and than the leaders of the family, it is different. However, rather than dwell on that and become unhappy, we are grateful and thankful we can honor them by following the traditions they instilled in us as we were growing up. Traditions we have passed on to our children, and hope they will instill those traditions and values to theirs. That is what keeps our parents alive in our thoughts, our hearts, and our lives.
You see ladies and gentleman, there is a great deal that comes from being thankful. It's good for the soul and your inner peace, and does wonders for your happiness. EAch and every one of us achieves happiness via different methods. It certain is what works for you that matters. However, do not let this economy and financial times ruin your holidays. We only get a limited number of them in our lifetime and we never know when we may not see the next.
We must take hold of those we those and make time with them the greatest gift. Showing how much you care cannot fit in a box. Gifts are great, but be content with what you can do, and do not feel bad about what you cannot do. This is how you live with an open heart, an open mind, and how you live your best life.
From my family to yours, we wish everyone a safe, healthy, and Happy Thanksgiving.
Live with an open mind,
Live with an open heart,
Live your best life.
God bless, stay safe, and be well,
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