There has been so much talk about how this holiday season is going to be different because of the shipping delays and the break in the supply chain. You may not be able to order the “IT” gift in time, or the chocolate you serve every Christmas may be stuck in transit in some port somewhere.
Instead of stressing about finding the right gift and getting it at the right time, we want to challenge you to use this year as an opportunity to think differently. None of the end-of-the-year holidays began with a focus on retail and the goal of promoting greed.
Think back to the classic story, A Christmas Carol. Back in the 1800s, Charles Dickens had it right. There are so many iterations of a Christmas Carol, from direct retellings of the story, to the Muppet Version of the Christmas Carol, to Scrooged with Bill Murray. Wikipedia lists over 50 versions of the movie, but other sources claim there are more than 135 film iterations of the story.
Why do we keep remaking this movie, retelling this story and connecting with it?
Because for the last 177 years, humans have instantly connected with it. When Charles Dickens published the story on December 19th, the first edition sold out by Christmas Eve. By the next Christmas, 13 editions had already been printed.
We would be surprised if you did not know the story, but in case you don’t, the story focuses on Scrooge, a man so driven by money that he has lost all personal human connection. He does not even enjoy the money he has and lives so cheaply that his rooms are cold and dark, reflecting the inner self to the outer self.
I think most of us can relate to Scrooge because whether or not we want to admit it, we see some part of ourselves in him. Maybe we’ve gotten old enough that our end-of-the-year holidays seem more stressful than fun. Perhaps we’ve been disappointed in the past, just like Scrooge was as a young boy at Christmastime. Or maybe, we just want to say Bah-Humbug to everything because the ads make everyone look so happy and cheerful but we know life is tough and it isn’t always as rosy as the commercials make it look.
Why are we, a community empowerment organization, talking about Scrooge and holiday disappointments?
For starters, we want to challenge you to look at your holidays differently. We have said it before, and we’ll say it again: we are all connected. When one of us suffers, all of us suffer. When we continue as a nation to prioritize gifts, and commercialized products, and wanting more of everything, we are focusing on things. And things do not matter. People matter. And many of the products we desire to have so much are actually creating ill effects on the world.
We need to continue to shop smarter and see the effect our actions, both big and small, have on the world around us. And we are not saying we should never own anything, or that we can’t enjoy things, but we should continually take a step back and examine our motivations, and look around us. Have we become a Scrooge? Are we so focused on obtaining wealth, money, or things that we have lost the people around us who mean something? Have we gained the world yet lost our souls?
How can I begin to break the stress of the season?
This year, instead of waiting in line for hours for the newest TV, or stalking an item online, or getting mad at the postal service when our packages do not arrive in time, let’s try to spend that time and energy investing in people, our communities, our families. Instead of buying so many gifts we have the holiday fatigue, the disappointments, the highs before the lows, let’s try something new.
This year, we wanted to provide a helpful plan for you. What are some of your end-of-the-year goals?
Are their organizations you can you volunteer to help out? What family members do you need to connect with? How can we strengthen our communities instead of accumulating more stuff?
The holidays can be such a great time of year, when we focus on what’s important. And we will always be here to remind you that people are important because we sometimes need reminding ourselves!
Click below to download a copy of your Cultivate Cheer goal planner:
We hope you will use it to help you think through what is important, not to make you feel more stressed. Remember to make this a season of cheer!
-Rebecca, Programs and Communications Manager