Halloween is candy and costumes. Thanksgiving is turkey and football. Christmas is stockings and mistletoe. Even Valentine's Day is hearts and chocolate, and there are so many more. I associate these things with the time of year, but this is just me and my family. Everyone is different, but in our society what is so great about the holiday season? Why do we look forward to that time of year? How have these holidays become such a magical time for so many in American society? Amongst all of this holiday excitement, what have people begun to take for granted?
You might say why wouldn’t everyone look forward to the holidays? It’s the “best” time of the year, but have you ever thought about why? There are the obvious reasons like gifts, family coming into town, getting to take some time off work or school, and getting to spend that time together, but what is that feeling that the holidays bring?
The holiday season is known for its chaos. Whether you are searching for the perfect Halloween costume, perfecting your table setting for the Thanksgiving feast, or hiding the perfect present from your loved one, the crazy holiday season can definitely be called stressful, but among all of this stress have we lost the true meaning of the holidays? Have we begun to take the time we have together during this season that comes around once a year for granted?
For those who can, they give gifts. Whether it’s big or small, physical or more abstract, the real gift is being able to give it. Everyone looks forward to them, everyone stresses about them, and most everyone appreciates them. While most parents remind you to be grateful for your gifts or write thank you letters to those who took the time to send you something special, isn’t it more than that? Any gift, no matter what it is, that can bring the slightest bit of joy to the person receiving it, is worth giving. A new puppy can bring smiles and laughter when they are needed most. A pair of mittens can bring a bit of warmth and sunshine to an otherwise cold, dreary winter. You never know what your gift can mean to someone. Every gift is worth giving.
Another huge thing we forget to be grateful for during the holidays is a healthy family. I mean, we wouldn’t be who we are today without are family. We wouldn’t even “be.” Whether you are the one hosting the whole family at your house for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or even if you're the one traveling the miles to see them, adults are always complaining about the stress family can bring to the already crazy time. This is very understandable. When you're in charge of cleaning the rooms for your guests to stay in, cooking the food for your guests to eat, or providing the entertainment, how could you not feel a bit of pressure? It is usually not until Thanksgiving Day, Christmas morning, or when the clock strikes twelve on New Year's Eve that all the stress subsides and we can live in the moment with our loved ones, taking it all in, being grateful for what we were blessed with because the truth is in reality there are some without families and without anyone. We are more lucky than we even know.
We also must remember that these special moments around the holiday season will not last forever! The time we have together is limited, and as I said before the time with our families is so special that we must remember to cherish it while we have it. While we like to think we will have our friends and family constantly around us, the sad truth is that time will run out, people will not live forever, and these holidays spent together will be but a distant memory in the years to come. While it's possible we might take things like family and the time we have to spend together for granted, the holidays can also cause the opposite reaction, making us stop and take a step back to see how lucky we really are.
Do we actually know why we feel this way around this time of year? Maybe it is just the decorations or the commercials on TV. Maybe it is the thought of waking up to presents under the tree or eating a whole bucket of candy in one night, but maybe it’s something more than this. Maybe it is the traditions that come with the holidays, whether it’s going trick or treating or the food at Thanksgiving. Whatever your family’s traditions are, they make any holiday special, but the feeling of the season, that we create ourselves.
Maybe the holidays represents hope for the future. Hope that better days are still to come. The future can be scary and no one knows what will happen to them, but the hope of a good holiday season filled with family, friends, and food can ease the fear of the future. There is nothing like a break from life and time together to really enjoy the holidays. Picture this: You're rested and relaxed. School or work is the farthest thing from your mind. Your house is loud with conversation, not one room not full of family and people you love. You can smell grandma’s secret recipes baking in the oven. There’s not one more thing you could ask for in the world. Your heart is happy. That’s what makes the holiday season the best time of year.