Here it is, heavy upon us again, the season of giving and getting. It has come too fast, as it does every year, even though every year we seem to start a little bit earlier. The joy of the season is heavily dependent on retail sales, for without sufficient household spending the economy may suffer dearly.
I understand that psychotherapists do a roaring business this time of year. Many of them undoubtedly feel the stress of long hours listening to someone else’s agony and depression. Store clerks probably suffer in a similar way, as well as harried shoppers and screaming children. It is a season of hectic.
I don’t think this is how it was originally meant to be.
With no offense intended to the Christian population, it’s not a coincidence that the celebration of the birth of Christ on December 25th aligns with the much earlier Pagan celebration of the winter solstice. The move to place Christ’s birthday smack dab at the end of the Pagan celebration, and the subsequent return of light, is thought to have been calculated to draw Pagans into the Christian fold. This appears to have occurred in the 4th Century AD.
If you’re going to have a celebration around the shortest, darkest, gloomiest day of the year, December 21st, you’re darn well more likely to celebrate giving and good cheer than to wallow in the darkness, unless you’re a sociopath or a maladroit or something.
If I ever feel melancholy, this is the time of year it is most likely to come upon me. On more than one Christmas Eve I’ve been exhausted enough to fall asleep in a chair among friends and relatives, have felt physically ill, have looked forward to Christmas Day, not for the presents but for the relief of knowing that It Is Over.
However one regards the holiday, I’d bet that this sense of relief afterward is universal.
Who would argue that the Christmas decorations on the streets, in stores, and in household windows, are not uplifting and joyful? Taking the idea of the holiday’s brightly colored lights a step further, we keep Christmas tree lights strung around the intersections of walls and ceiling in the living and dining rooms all year long. If the desire for cheer arises in March, say, the lights provide.
No wonder that giving to others is predominant in our minds this time of year. For those who give money to bona fide non-profit charities the giving has a bonus in tax deductibility, as long as the donation is made before year-end.
Whether your beliefs are Christian, Pagan, Other, or None, this is the best time of year to not only think of others who have less money, but consider the exhausted store clerks and burdened psychotherapists, consider your friends and your family, the lonely, the old, the ill, and even the maladroits and sociopaths.
Donations, whether money, toys, food, or whatever, are beautiful and much needed. The gift of a kind word or a show of affection can do wonders as well. For me, this is the true spirit of the season. I believe this is how it was meant to be.
Peace to All!