('Tis the season, yeah)
To see the children laughin'
Everybody should be dancin'
Come on and clap your hands 'cuz
('Tis the season, yeah)
For us to all be grateful
It's time to be thankful
Let's do it while we're able
…and so on.
Artist: Mary Mary lyrics
‘Tis the season to spread joy and happiness. “If you are unhappy, and you know it clap your hands!”. Uh-oh, wrong song. True, is it not? You know when you are unhappy. Chances are everyone around you knows you’re unhappy, too.
Then there’s, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!” If you’re not feeling the love ask yourself, “Am I happy?” I find I rarely ask the question myself, certainly not often enough. So just in the moment, try it on for size. Ask the question, “Am I happy?” The experience can’t be any worse than trying on your favorite pair of jeans. Ha! Then again it is the holidays!
Seriously, you will probably become as retrospective as I am regarding the question of happiness. Of course the answer, at least in any moment in time, can be entirely up to you. You may be wondering why am I asking now, at a time when the spirit of giving and receiving is at an all time high? The holiday season can be a busy, stressful time. Many of us go out of our way to please others. There’s even this myth that suicide rates are highest during the holidays. Not so. Fact is, suicide rates are lowest in the month of December. The spirit of giving is safe, at least for now.
So if you’re broke or simply aggravated by the gift giving thing you might ask, “What’s with all the gift giving this time of year?” Well there’s the Christians and Christmas. Sometime after the birth of Jesus, three seemingly wise men, also known as the Magi, bearing incredibly expensive gifts considering the price of gold today, came to visit the newborn, Jesus Christ. Or blame ancient Romans who held year end celebrations to honor Saturn, their harvest god; and Mithras, their god of light… As part of these celebrations, the people prepared special foods, decorated their homes with greenery, and joined in singing and gift giving. These customs gradually became part of gift giving.
Then there’s tens of millions of Americans who don't even celebrate Christmas religiously, either as followers of non-Christian religions (Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews) or as individuals with no religious affiliation. What a drag it is to buy gifts for someone you believe is barking up the wrong tree (or cloud). In reality, many different events, both spiritual, religious, and tradition based, are being celebrated in many different ways during these times.
Is it right time to spread good cheer? Or is it laborious like Ground Hog Day. Granted it is only a few very cold weeks out of the year. There’s Black Friday. Black Friday you camp outside in the freezing cold, gangrene sets in, turns your fingers black and they fall off before you can grab an unbelievable deal on Black Friday. Cyber Monday specials are already gone because you can’t keyboard without fingers.
One month out of the year, you need to avoid the hype retailers bring to bear. Retailers would have you trick or treating in Santa Claus costumes and dispensing candy canes in October.
Receiving gifts is equally taxing. Too often a gift received becomes an albatross around your neck. A comedic example being the prominent presentation of a framed photo of a friend(s) or relative(s) on the rare occasion (excluding Florida residents) they come to visit. Personally, I realize this admission alone means there will be hell to pay.
So what makes you happy? Giving gifts or receiving gifts; decorating your domicile; hanging lights and ornaments on a Christmas tree; preparing a holiday feast for the multitudes? It’s not so easy. One long sigh from someone down the hallway, one obscene sign along the highway, a wayward thought, an unkind word, a tear from inside your head and you begin to doubt whether you have an outside chance to be happy.
The answer is, there is no answer… to the question, “Am I happy?” The definition of happy may be as simple as finding a favorite place in time, in your mind, alone or in a crowd, be it a smile, be it a moment to savor. I have come to realize right now ‘tis the season. There is no past. There is no future. Give a gift you can return without receiving; love and respect for your family and friends. From this gift you will find happiness, especially the returns.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to family and friends of all religions and faith.
One of my favorite expressions - May you live each day of your life. Jonathon Swift