Day #1 Rat Race
Do you think it is possible that I can take all that I wrote and find the positive side of all these things for the holidays? Well, I am about to find out.
As I said previously, I hate the rat race of the holidays. We move from one holiday to another all the while being bombarded with the commercialism of the holidays, the expectation of attending a million social, church, school, and family events. As I was talking to my wife a couple of days ago she said some things that made me think.
Why do we have the rat race, other than the commercialism and all the church, school, and family functions that never end? Why do we have things? Don’t they only add to the madness of the holiday season. As I mentioned this my wife, who does not share the same views on the holidays as me, said that she loves the holidays and she wished they would come earlier every year. If it was up to her she would decorate before Thanksgiving. I was surprised by this but it got me thinking as to why she would like them so much when I don’t. We have been together for over 20 years, so you think that we would come to some agreement on this, or at least rub off on each other a little by this point in our lives, but we are starkly different.
So why does she enjoy the rat race? Why is it good for her and not me? I think it is because of her view about the holidays as she grew up. The rat race to her is part of the excitement, part of the anticipation, part of the wonder of the holidays. I thought about this and wondered if the rat race really can be good.
It all starts with Thanksgiving and for some people they love the big family get-togethers or even the quiet family meals hanging out and watching football. For her this was the beginning of the excitement and part of something I never experienced as a kid, Black Friday. Her family would go through the paper and plan the crazy family shopping trips. They would organize and decide on what they were going after. It would not surprise me if they would not have dressed up as little elves and put on elvish war paint as they went out shopping. I do know that her whole family would have fun doing it all. When they were fighting everyone for socks and tech decks they would go at their own pace and enjoys the time together. They would all come back with different stories about what happened. It almost was a competition to see who got to see the craziest thing. But it was their ability to go at the pace that suited them that made it fun and enjoyable.
Then you have all the holiday activities that can be overwhelming. Can being the optimum word. We should remember 1. why we are invited to such events, and 2. why we would go. The reason most people get invited to different holiday activities is because someone feels like they would enjoy their company or they are part of a community which would like to celebrate together. Take for example you normal church holiday party. Everyone in the church is invited. This small community probably has similar traditions toward the holiday and so sharing this time gives everyone a sense of acceptance, a sense of community, a sense of not being alone.
Family and social gatherings are a little different. You get invited because someone likes you as a person and enjoys your company (or in my case they enjoy my wife’s company). This is a formal gesture of love and friendship. They are telling you that you mean something to them. You might not be the most important person in their life, but you make a small part of it better, which is why they want you there. They want to take the good things in their life and reward them by hosting a social gathering. If you look at it this way it can still seem overwhelming, maybe even more so because now you feel more obligated to go. You should not feel this way because the people who invited you would also be the people who would understand if you cannot make it and not make much of it. Are there gatherings you should prioritize over others? Sure, but you should not feel like you need to make every event. Make the ones that work for you and politely tell the others that you would love to go but you have already committed yourself to something else, even if that something else is relaxing at home to keep your sanity.
School activities are a show of support for your children. They have worked all year long and this is their time to share some of what they are doing with you. It may seem pointless at times when you hear jingle bells for the 300th time, but what is your 300th may be your child’s 1st. This is important because they will look to you to understand how to experience all these activities. If you are like me and a big Grinch, then guess what your kids will act like? Yip, the same way. So show them you are proud of their off-pitch version of silent night and let them know that putting themselves out there can be fun and rewarding.
The rat race can be exhausting but just like any race you are in charge of the pace at which you go. The only real difference is there is not really a finish line or even a winner or loser. While things may seem like they are going 1000 miles an hour around you, there is no reason why you need to go at the same pace. You miss too much when you go that fast. Instead, watch the cars go by, the shoppers run from store to store, laugh at their craziness, and then think about the time you are spending with those you love. The slower you go, the more time you get with them.
While the holiday season may seem like a rat race, it really is an obstacle course of affirmation, love, and filled with a sense of belonging at every obstacle. These are things that you won’t get any other time of the year. Aren’t these things worth the hassle of some of the craziness of the holiday season?