52 Weeks 500 Words
This is how it began: Justine (not her real name) decided to write 500 words (or as near as), anything goes, per week for 52 weeks. She would then submit it for anonymous posting, via me, her friend. Perhaps a pattern will emerge from her words, but at this stage it’s more an experiment I have agreed to share in. I’ll attempt to draw conclusions at the end of this. Stay tuned if this resonates with you.
(Last weekend we had power outages and could't post - this week's entry is thus a little longer to make up for it)
'Hello, everyone! I saw what Elaina did there with the last post (week 15), nudging me to expand on my take of the ‘season’. I thus changed my strategy and deleted the journal entry I had prepared for last weekend. Just as well, I think, because that was a dark one and no one deserves to be bowed down by that kind of emotional burden. Actually, although I deleted it from the file I’m keeping with all these entries, I put it somewhere else – for me to struggle with when I have the courage.
Still, I think this ‘season to be jolly’ thing forms part of that darkness, and therefore what I’m about to record may contain elements of the deleted one.
When we were children Christmas was huge. It is still huge for children today, and that is as it should be. Many may say it is an unreal event and should be toned down, but I say the imagination and anticipation that goes into it creates a child’s creativity. It isn't about how much they receive on the day, for we can all come up with ideas that don’t break the bank, but it is about them feeling worthy. As we felt worthy for many years.
Now, here we enter the arena of religion. You may ask, does that mean kids who don’t get to celebrate Christmas feel unworthy? It is, after all, a Christian holiday. No, that is not what I’m saying, and I entirely remove the religious aspect to this day and look at it purely from a child’s point of view. I believe all cultures have a way of celebrating that builds a child’s creativity and sense of worth, just not on the same day as this day. I believe, however, many now celebrate Christmas in many countries whether Christian or not, seeing it as a means to celebrate togetherness, and to have fun. Nothing wrong with that. It brings us all closer, I think, if we take it as a day for family, for our children, for laughter and good spirit.
As adults, Christmas isn't so huge. Perhaps this is due to the monetary aspect, for many feel they have to spend too much to make the day special. That is so far from the truth, that I don’t understand why it still happens. Getting together and having a meal and a laugh is what it is about, whether that meal is grand or basic. It is the action of choosing to spend a day together that makes it wonderful. Right, and then you say, but we can do that any day of the year, and I agree, and you definitely should, but it is also a truth that, in the back of our minds, we know a really large part of humankind is engaged in precisely the same action world over, and that means, for a small window in the year, we all feel the sense of togetherness. We are one, as humans. An amazing feeling, not so?
Why then, this darkness when the season descends upon us, for some of us? Many will be alone and that is one reason, therefore the ‘togetherness’ escapes us. Many still feel it is money related, and cannot afford the shindig and feel terrible about it. Many believe it is now so commercial the real value of Christmas is entirely missing, and that is a truth also, but what is ‘real value’? We need to take a hard look at our measuring sticks.
Real value isn't religion or faith. I put to you Christmas is now commercial because those elements are secondary. I also believe they should be secondary. I’m not explaining myself very well, sorry. Let me put it like this: the real value of Christmas lies in congregating together because you want to be together to enjoy the fellowship of each other’s company on a day when the real world simply cannot intrude. Real value, therefore, is setting aside the problems of life and simply enjoying the living of it. Looking at it from a faith perspective, the fact that so many choose to follow the route of fellowship rather than worship, is another reason for the sense of depression that envelopes some of us during this time.
And, another reason for feeling unhappy, is the missing of loved ones on a day we used to expect them to be in our presence. Grief becomes very real again, and that is understandable.
And, lastly, for many of us, when family get together, it means only strife. It’s about showmanship, my gift is better than yours, I could have put on a better meal than you, ha. It’s judgemental too, why didn't you take that job, when I told you it’s better for you, you’re getting fat, you’re not eating enough, your kids are out of hand, I can sort them out in a day, your father is ill, why haven’t you visited. And a host of others, I’m sure you know the drill in your family. Suddenly people who generally avoid each other are thrown together, because it’s expected at Christmas. How dare we exclude so and so from the gathering? What’s wrong with you? And therefore so and so is invited in order to allay that judgement, and the day is entirely ruined by so and so coming into your home. Sound familiar? Right. So we hate celebrating Christmas, it’s a day of strife.
When we think about it, then, the solutions are simple. If we have kids, make the day about them. If everyone is adult, invite only those you want to spend time with and have a good laugh. Forget commercialism and the money aspect, and simply enjoy each other’s company. If you are religious, say your prayers, and then enjoy the company of those who aren't. And if you’re missing a loved one intensely on the day, put a glass of bubbly (or whatever you’re having) on the table and offer him or her a toast in remembrance, shed a tear (nothing wrong with that) and then go forth and enjoy the day. If you are alone, make the day yours. Do something that makes you feel happy within, whether it’s snuggling in with a good book or watching a couple of movies, or making yourself something nice to eat when you don’t usually bother cooking. Take the day and be you.
I have now taken a deep, deep breath. Having read through all this, I now understand my own darkness is of my creation, and I am able to rise above it. Many of these factors as listed form part of my issues, but having now laid them out and having offered solutions, I actually feel better about the season to be jolly.
I hope you do, too.