By Edith Morgan
In the midst of the mad race to the end of 2015, I want to take a few minutes to wish everyone a joyous holiday season: it seems that from Halloween on, it is a mad rush to get to the end of the year. We barely get the spooks and goblins and costumes put away for another year, when already Thanksgiving is upon us and then there is no real let-up until we sink exhausted into winter in January.
Thanksgiving is followed by the eight days of Hanukah, then Christmas, and then the New Year, with “First Night,“ and then the Chinese and Vietnamese New Year, and the Cambodian New Year in April. And somewhere in between Christmas and the New Year, Kwanzaa takes its seven (I think) days. And it is hard to remember what year each group is celebrating – the Jewish year is 5776, the Chinese around 4712, the Cambodian year is 2559. I have not yet researched the numbers for the Hindu, Moslem, or other years yet.
Also, different groups celebrate according to a different calendar – some follow the lunar calendar, while others have their holidays determined by historical or other criteria while most Christians follow the calendar mostly in use in America and Europe … the Eastern Orthodox Churches have their Christmas about two weeks after December 24th.
But whenever the celebration is, we all seem to have some sort of celebration and end-of-year festival, and we have some time for getting together with family and friends.
It is a time when we exchange greetings and notes with people whom we may only remember at this time, but whom we may have known for years. In this very mobile society, and in this very large country, so many of us are so far apart. And travel is expensive and time-consuming, so we traverse the miles using media. Of course, since the advent of Facebook and cell phones, and Skype, we are able to communicate almost daily (sometimes several times a day, for kids), so it is almost like being there.
For me, real, face-to-face interaction is still the best. The phone and computer rely so heavily on words, that we miss all the subtle messages that emanate from a living person in our presence. And sometimes I fear we are losing the ability to “read” the signals coming from others – that takes years of practice to achieve!
So, for this holiday season, let’s spend more, real time really together – talking, listening, exchanging ideas and stories instead of spending ourselves into debt buying a lot of things we do not really need. This might be a good time to get to know our neighbors better – maybe carry a dish of cookies or home-made fudge to them, and personally wish them a great new year.
And of course this is the time to reflect on the past year, and to resolve to do some things better – to learn something new, to make new friends, and to come closer to being the person we should be.
Joy and, above all, PEACE to all this holiday season!