Well, folks, silly season has ended—and thank the lord. Wait….did I write “silly”? Actually, if you’ve paid attention, it was a mudslinging “gotcha” season—and everyone got down and dirty. If your candidate won, that’s great; if your candidate lost, suck it up. Working together is the key to heathy communities.
That being said, brace yourself, because we now entering the “over” season: Overspending overeating, over-partying, over-drinking, over-planning and over- taxing ourselves, physically and emotionally. At the end of the “over” season, we may find ourselves bankrupt financially, emotionally and headed straight for a fall. What a precarious way to live — and why?
Halloween was barely on the horizon when I spotted holiday cards and Christmas paraphernalia dotting the stores. “You gotta be kidding?” I thought. Yet, guess who almost pulled out her wallet? Then bingo! I realized that the subliminal messages sent by the retail gods are geared to get our adrenaline pumping with the “Oh- my –goodness- Christmas- is –only- 11 -weeks – away” hysteria!
When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was a festive day when we gathered as a family giving thanks for the wonderful gifts of life—and it was not the monetary stuff that today we sometimes equate with feeling grateful. As a matter of fact, I was one of six kids, and monetary stuff was pretty much non-existent.
When my kids were growing up, I kept the same traditions. These were “freeze-frame” holidays that can only be called up in memory. Speaking of which, traditions seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur, don’t you think? Back then, we didn’t leave the dinner table to run to a big box store to get trampled on for a bogus sale. And how about those big box stores forcing employees to work? Think about it, folks, if we didn’t frequent these stores on Thanksgiving they would cease to open, right?
And of course, the “over” season brings out the worst in some families. If you live with a Hatfield and McCoy situation, it always comes down to choosing sides — and I do not mean a side of harvest veggies. Even if we were not directly involved in a long-standing family feud, something of value will have been irrevocably lost.
When couples divorce, sometimes civility is not an option. (Crazy, huh?) When holiday time rolls around, the kids get a double whammy from the parents and may feel pulled in both directions. Most of us do not live “Hallmark card” lives; however, when I see families torn apart with bitterness, I can only think of how the “adults’” behavior is affecting their kids, now and down the road. Make no mistake, it will!
At this point, you may be making a list and checking it twice, three times and maybe four. Why? Because we cannot possibly swing it financially. However, instead of being honest with the folks on our lists, we pull out that piece of plastic and swipe away. Come January when the bills start piling up, we realize we did one swipe too many.
I am a party-gal and love a good time — after all, tis the season to be jolly. But time for oneself, especially during the “over” season, is paramount. Sometimes the fear of missing a great event puts us on a party-go-round leaving us dizzy, sleep-deprived and not looking too good. And where’s the fun in that?
And who says we have to eat and drink to excess? Some folks will put on 10 pounds over an eight-week period and spend the next 10 months trying to work it off. It is a known fact that after January 1, gym memberships increase. And if we don’t succeed in losing weight, we carry that excess weight, plus the next holiday season’s weight. Sometimes we cease to give a damn, but we should. Being overweight is detrimental to our health. It makes us sluggish and tired — and when we are tired, believe it or not, we crave food. Research has shown that being tired can create a sensation in or around our midsection which can be mistaken for hunger.
Overplanning kills the magic. But some of us are perfectionists, yup, that was me! We plan it down to every detail, and when we encounter a little glitch, and we feel like the Grinch stole Christmas. And even if our event is perfect, we are probably too worn out to enjoy it.
What would happen if we called a moratorium on the “over” season? Well, for starters, we would be happier, healthier and have more cash in our pockets come January 1. I am not suggesting we cancel Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa celebrations. I’m just proposing a little tweak in our approach.
I mean, really, who says we have to have the perfect turkey? Would it be the end of the world if we ate store-bought apple pie? Would it be a sin not to send Christmas cards? What happens when we try to add the holiday-run-amok to our already over-scheduled lives? Who says everyone has to get the perfect gift? How many times when caught in traffic have you said, “I can’t wait until this holiday is over?” Be honest now!
It’s like working overtime and not getting paid. Last year in the middle of the Christmas season, I attended a half-day meditation class. At first I bucked at the idea, but honestly folks, it was the pause I needed. I got into the holiday spirit with sense of calmness and quietude.
Love, family, being grateful for another year together should be paramount in our hearts. Trust me: Life can change in a New York minute and we don’t even see it coming. We can wish each other peace, and try to be good stewards of this planet. We can send sincere love, instead of insincere gifts. We can donate the money that we spend on stamps and cards (that get tossed) to a charitable cause. We can….. (fill in the blank).
How did we get so far from celebrating love and instead worship the retail gods? You may be thinking I am way out in left field with my unrealistic thinking. If so, I beg to differ. It just takes a change of consciousness and some practice. Do we really need drive ourselves into frenzy because we think we should? And to boot, we complain ad nauseam. We put ourselves at a great disadvantage when we worship at the altars of “I should” and “they say!”
The world is in turmoil and maybe we cannot change most things; but we can, if we are willing, take a step back during the over-season. And who knows? We may actually enjoy the festivities and our hearts may expand to embrace all of humanity—even the guy who stole our parking space while we were Christmas shopping.
I especially like this line from an old hymn: “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Hmm. Novel thought!
Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in ‘retirement’ — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.
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