Another holiday season is upon us. It is here whether we celebrate or not, or whether we want it to be here or not. The choice is ours to participate in it or to hide under a rock from Thanksgiving to New Year’s day. I have to admit that I have been tempted to do the latter: the folly of materialism and the illusion that things create more happiness, everyone running around frantic to purchase gifts for people they don’t really know or care about, the mind-numbing conversations with people we think we are obligated to spend time with, and the stress that we add to our daily lives are usually the opposite of the spirit of the holiday season – the spirit peace, joy and goodwill to all men (and women).
I was brought up Catholic, so during my childhood, my Argentine-American family celebrated Christmas. My parents, especially my mother, made sure that we had a lot of gifts (mostly things we needed but some were superfluous) and lots of food, family and friends. Christmas was a big celebration every year with a large, fake Christmas tree (with snow on the branches even though we lived in Los Angeles), a plastic, tacky Santa and his reindeers on the rooftop of the house, and decorations inside the house. And, as loving and caring as my mother truly was, neither she nor my father ever really explained to me what this season was really about. Sure I learned that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, but what about the holidays for those who are not Christian? Why do they celebrate? As I grew older, I inadvertently partook in the Christmas traditions from my upbringing (like most of us do) without thinking about whether they reflected my values or not. However, as I grew older and wiser, I have learned what truly is important to me and thus what I want reflected in the holiday season. Below is my list. My hope is that this list will help you reflect on what is important to you. My hope is that it will help you become aware that you are free to live your values during this time of year (no matter what your religious or non-religious beliefs are):
- The holidays are a reminder of what humans are truly capable of – giving and loving. The giving that occurs during this time is greater than at any other time of the year. If it is done with love, then it spreads love onto the world.
- The holidays are a reminder of what humans are truly capable of – hypocrisy. The giving that occurs during this time out of obligation is also greater than any other time of year. If the giving is done without love (obligation), than it spreads more discontentment and disillusion onto the world.
- Just because I grew up celebrating Christmas a certain way does not mean that I have to keep celebrating in the same fashion. I am free to celebrate as I please, or I am free to skip celebrating. I can create my own holiday traditions that reflect my current values and beliefs.
- I am not obligated to anyone. I do not have to participate in any party, family gathering, gift exchange, or any other holiday activity if I do not want to or should not care to. What others think about my choices is not my business.
- The spirit of the holidays (love and peace and goodwill) should be celebrated EVERY DAY, not only from Thanksgiving Day until Christmas Day.
- The way to true peace begins with me; it begins with living with peace in my own heart as a result of living my truth. If I live like this, I pass on peace (and not discord) onto the world.
- What I do for the holidays is a reflection of who I am. What I choose to do will either give life to the world, or it will bring death to the world.
- The holiday season is not about receiving gifts, putting myself in debt, buying the latest I-pad or gimmick, or spending time with people who do not reflect my values.
- I have learned that the time to give is always NOW and not only at Christmas time. I have learned that this is the way to peace, love, and good will to all men and women.
- I have learned that small acts done by everyone can greatly change the world.
I choose to celebrate the holidays. I choose to participate in activities that nourish the world because they are done in love and not obligation. I choose to forgo buying gifts except for one very special person out of love. I choose to put up a Christmas tree because I love the way it looks in my house. I choose not to participate in the stress, the ridiculous debt and materialism, and the many holiday parties because all of this does not bring me peace. I choose to spend the Christmas holiday this year with people who reflect my values. I choose peace, love and goodwill. What will you choose for yourself?
May you choose to experience and reflect abundant peace and joy this holiday season and every day.
Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.