Monday, December 29, 2008

seasonal thoughts

So here we are, nearly through the holiday season once again. As holiday seasons go it has been nice but nothing special, enjoyable but not overwhelming. And there in lies the rub as the Bard would say.

Most people feel like the holidays have to be a super special time of the year, when the world shines with goodness and light and men exhibit goodwill toward each other. Everyone strives to achieve that illusory holiday spirit, whatever that is. The usually taciturn become gregarious, the cynical become angelic in their search for that feeling of good cheer. For the few brief days that define the holidays for the majority of us, we end up living a lie and convincing ourselves that we are truly filled with the Christmas spirit.

The dutiful giving of gifts is particularly grating. It’s the dutiful part that irritates me more than anything. The idea that you have to give gifts that most often you can’t afford to give and the recipient really doesn’t want, perverts the very idea of gift giving. I love to give gifts, but only when it is my idea and when it is least expected. The anticipation of gift receiving and giving under such controlled and demanded circumstances takes any joy out of the process for me. I guess I would never play a convincing Santa.

Another pet peeve of mine is the appearance of the once-a-year do-gooders who crawl out of their comfy circumstances to stroke their own need for demonstrable goodness. You know the ones I’m talking about: those who serve Christmas dinner to the hungry, those who provide an evening’s shelter for the homeless, and those who provide unneeded toys instead of clothing for the poor children. Once the two week holiday season passes once more, the hungry still need to eat, the homeless still need shelter, the poor kids still need clothing and heat and food while those toys lie unnoticed on the floor in the corner.
But for some reason those needs don’t seem so urgent once the twinkling lights go out. I guess for those once-a-year types, it is possible to store up enough “feel good” to last until the next holiday season arrives. In he meantime, the everyday providers are left to carry the load throughout the year, to try to stretch the help they can give until the next round of seasonal do-gooders take all the credit.

I know it’s better to have at least a couple weeks of that good holiday spirit to share and spread among all those who are willing to accept it and participate in the seasonal festivities. Of course the ideal would be to carry that spirit throughout the year, but I guess we will have to settle for what we can get. So merry Christmas, happy new year, and see you all next year.

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