Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Handbook: The Why and Not The What

The holidays. At times, hectic. Hopefully not horrific. Possibly holy (if you are so inclined). Occassionally hilarious. And, if we are lucky, for the most part happy. Join me on Mondays as we find a way to navigate the Season with style and smarts, and, most importantly, without losing our sanity.

This is an awesome time of year. For eight days, the Jews celebrate Hannukah, called The Festival of Light. It commenorates their victory over persecution and the rededication of the Holy Temple. Christians celebrate Christmas which commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. While not based in religion, many African-Americans end the year celebrating Kwanzaa which focuses on making a strong connection to our African ancestors.

So, if you practice any of these traditions, there is a definite reason behind the season - and that reason - should feature prominently in your celebrations. Even if you aren't religious or even spiritual, the Holidays offer the opportunity to connect with family and friends.

Take some time this season to teach your children about why they are celebrating the Holidays. Let them know what it means to you. But, it's not just about the kids, take some time yourself, to reconnect with why you are celebrating. While gifts are great, they should never be the sum total of the holiday tradition.
I went out for my first Black Friday shopping event about 15 years ago. I was going to Wal-Mart. I didn't know at the time, I was supposed to get there several hours before the store was set to open. I arrived around ten minutes to 6:00 a.m. and was shocked to find the line wrapping around the store.
As I approached, I commented about the line to several other people who had just arrived. The three of us agreed, instead of walking all the way to the end of the line, we would stand across from the doors and wait until the store opened and everyone entered before going in.
Well, the shoppers in line assumed we were going to try to cut and they unleashed a torrent of threats, slurs and words that would have made Santa blush (and move them to the top of the naughty list).
When 6:00 arrived, pandemonium broke out as people sprinted from the end of the line up to the doors. Several people had carts and used them to try to ram their way into the store. The three of us were scared to move!
When we finally got into the store, I heard calls for security repeatedly over the loud speaker. I saw an old woman get cursed out because she accidentally bumped a woman with her cart. It was crazy. I got out of their as soon as possible. I was so traumatized that it was years before I ventured out on Black Friday again.
Those aggressive and angry shoppers made the holiday about the what; their behavior showed that they didn't understand the why - the real reason for the season.
By the way, the 'must-have' item that year was the Furby. All of that negative energy for a Furby. I wonder how long those kids played with it before they lost interest in their little furry friend. The what fades quickly from memory but the whys endure.

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