I’ve noticed, this year in particular, how important traditions are. I don’t have many that have remained unchanged over the years. Most revolve around holidays, especially Christmas.

What that does is create shared experiences. Community, when family wouldn’t always be considered friends, and where friends become family. In the absence of community, bonds can fall apart.

That’s why tight-knit families have so many traditions – the traditions are how they became so close.

And it doesn’t take many. Two or three annual occurrences, inclusive and meaningful, are enough to bring a family closer.

Weekly Roundup

Ah, Christmas. A time for relaxation, carols, food, and retail…

What I’m reading: The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I found the name while reading Horizons, had the book, and had never read it. So I just started reading it.

What I’m listening to: Corner of the Sky from Pippin, New Broadway Cast Recording. The lyrics, “The rivers belong where they can ramble. the eagles belong where they can fly. I’ve got to be where my spirit can run from. Gotta find my corner of the sky.”, have been playing over and over in my head.

What I’m spending time with: Tidying up after Christmas. Seems like a lot was going on this week, run visiting family to prepping for after-holiday festivities. I found a couple neat hacks, including these tips cleaning.

What I’ve shared:

And that’s really it this week.

365 days until Christmas

Yes, that’s right. The leap year – 2020 – adds one day to the wait for Christmastime. But that’s okay. As I wrote yesterday, it’s easy to keep the season alive all year long.

I sincerely hope it was a wonderful holiday for you, dear reader, and for your loved ones.

I’ve taken to thinking of each holiday (and sometimes each day) on a sliding scale from the beginning of my life to the end. A definite middle point (one day) indicates that there is an even number of moments before this point and after it. When I reach that day, I have fewer moments ahead of me then I have behind.

So, at some point, you’ll have fewer Christmases with your family left ahead than the Christmases you’ve been already spent together. And that can be a sobering thought. A meditation on cherishing the present moment; on loving others, and yourself. 

This is the last I’ll say of Christmas, more or less, for this year. The rest of the next seven days will be spent focusing on the year that was, and the coming year.

But my hope is that I’ve not yet reached the middle point of this holiday with my family and loved ones – that I have more Christmases left in front of me with my parents and my friends than we’ve already had together. And I hope that for you as well.

And on this Christmas

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.

—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

At last, the shopping is over. The family is gathered. The presents are unwrapped. The meals are eaten. And, at close of day, we go our separate ways back into the world. Maybe this holiday we spend with someone we only see once per year. Or less.

But as we depart, let us be reminded that Christmas is more than a day, or a celebration, or presents, or feasting. That Christmas is the opening of our hearts to those we know and those we don’t.

When the bells strike midnight tonight, do not let the doors of the heart swing shut for another year. Be open to possibility. To love and family and friendship. Find compassion throughout the year in all you do, and live Christmas not just today, but every day.

Twas the Night Before Christmas

I’ve been playing fast and loose with my writing the past few weeks. Whereas I’m getting my morning pages done every day, my posts have been hit or miss on content and creativity. With Christmas just a day away, I’m hopeful that my schedule will be more manageable in just a few days.

That being said, thanks for keeping up with the blog.

This day always makes me think of the poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, as my dad would read it to me every year – for many years. In 2008, I received a DVD copy of his reading it, so that I could have it in perpetuity.

So, as the poem ends, I’ll too end by saying, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

Is Christmas ruined?

I overheard in a break room that “Working retail has ruined Christmas…” for the woman who said this. And that got me thinking. Is commercialism ruining Christmas?

Radio stations start playing Christmas music in November, or maybe even October. Do they do it to get the spirit going? No, they do it to catch radio listeners, and thus sell more ads.

Television, stores, nonprofits, and other businesses use Christmas to bring in or make more money. But what does that do to Christmas? Many of our cherished Christmas traditions were marketing campaigns during the holidays, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Montgomery Ward Department Store) and Santa’s Red Suit (Designed by Thomas Nast in Harper’s Weekly, but which was popularized by Haddon Sundblom’s Coca-Cola campaign).

Even Dicken’s A Christmas Carol created some traditions we still use today.

To answer the question of a ruining of Christmas, it must be understood what Christmas is. And that answer is so many things to different people.

So celebrate Christmas your way, and find moments to enjoy the season. It comes just once each year…

Last shopping weekend

Here we are, the last shopping weekend before Christmas. Are you done shopping?

Yesterday was what retailers call Super Saturday, the biggest single shopping day of the year.

“The last Saturday before Christmas has become the biggest shopping day of the year and we expect an impressive turnout.” – NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay

Nearly 150 million Americans are expected to shop this weekend. Now, I like stuff as much as the next person. I even did some shopping myself. But what’s the takeaway from all the spending and gifting?

Hopefully it’s that what’s important is family and loved ones, and not who’s the best shopper.