The holiday season is so commercialized that I think it’s easy for people forget about the reasons that the season is supposed to be meaningful. The momentum for the religious and cultural observations in December starts building in late October. Halloween advertising, party planning, and the all important costume selections ignite a festive spirit.
As a child, I looked forward to every opportunity to dress up, open gifts, enjoy special treats, and hang out with friends and family. I spent most of my time wishing for and hoping for specific things. I remember attaching names to some of my wishes and expectations. For example, I knew which neighbors would have the “best” candy Halloween night. I didn’t care so much about the professional finish to our costumes. I found pleasure in shouting, “trick or treat,” when the doors opened. I like it when the neighbors smiled and chuckled as they asked, “What are you supposed to be?” Back in the day, no item in the house was off limits as we used our imaginations to create the perfect costumes.
Once the candy counting and sorting ended, we were on to planning for Thanksgiving. I left the menu to mama and turned my focus to the Thanksgiving day itinerary. Thanksgiving day in Montgomery meant going to the Turkey Day Classic Parade after which we ate “a little something.” Next, we attended the Alabama State Homecoming game at Crampton Bowl then we ate dinner before heading to the Commodores concert that night. This was the routine most of the steps. Throughout the holiday season, the to-do list regenerated and repopulated itself as we moved from one holiday to the next. Like the wind whisking leaves around a yard in the fall, the holiday season sent a cyclone of items, people, and things into orbit around us.
This year’s holiday season presented a different experience. My positioning shifted to a space outside of the swirling commercially driven-sprint. I felt like the the midwestern homeowner standing inside the warm house peering out of the window at the leaves swirling about the yard. The cool winds signaled the forced transition of seasons from fall to winter. The seasons had no choice but to enter the vacuum. I found myself wondering why I ever loved the hustle and bustle of the season.
The newfound quiet time left me to think about the wishlist for each holiday. This year I didn’t wish for candy or unique gifts. This year I hoped to see my family and close friends. I wished for shared time with them. I had thoughts of hearty laughs, good food, game time, and how fast the time would past. I fought the feelings of aloneness because I missed those who passed away. I did a little bit of online shopping, but I decided I would rather spend my money on travel costs that would bring them closer to me. I went to the mall and the crowds and long lines made me literally shake my head. The shopping experience was a bit overwhelming and the cheerful holiday shoppers made awful partners on the roadways too.
I hope that my audience will not forget that the holidays are supposed to be fun. Fun, family, and friends motivated participation in all of the holiday gatherings and experiences during my childhood. I would argue that I participated in the hassles associated with the holiday seasons in the past because my family and friends would benefit from my sacrifices of time and money. I learned that the things and the amount of stuff means nothing without the relationships with the people. I hope that my audience will maximize opportunities to laugh and talk with friends and family. I wish that my audience will opt to embrace the true meaning of the three month long holiday season and pay forward gifts of human kindness that can really produce hope and peace.