It’s the annual holiday season here in the US. I think it is in many areas around the world.
The big ones in my life are Thanksgiving and Christmas. They have always been the big ones. And I guess I actually have a birthday throw in the middle as well.
So it’s a busy time of year for many people. This year I’ve been kind of thinking back on what the holidays means to me. It’s such an important time of year for many people that I thought it would be important to reflect on what it really means.
So here are just some of my thoughts…
I’m not big on gifts. Some of my family would probably tell you that I’m a bit of a grinch when it comes to gifts. I don’t know, for some reason I don’t really like getting gifts. And I don’t like giving gifts.
I’ve tried to see both sides of it. I know that giving a gift that someone really loves is a sign of love. It can take work to give a good gift and that effort itself is a form of love.
So I’m still kind of balancing on both sides of the gift thing, but I’m still mostly on the side of no gifts.
Even as I look back on my life it seems that I don’t remember gifts during the holiday season. I remember one gift and that was a Super Nintendo that my parents got for my brother and me in the early ’90s. We used that thing like crazy.
But other than that I don’t really remember gifts. And I was very fortunate to have generous parents. But it wasn’t the gifts they gave that made the holidays special.
Family & Friends
What I remember about the holidays is spending time with family and friends.
Obviously it hasn’t always been fond memories. But even the awkward situations or frustrating situations stand out. They are things to learn from. And usually there are good memories from each year of time with family and friends during the holidays.
I remember conversations with family members that I don’t really get to see during other times of the year other than the holidays. Those are special times. The holidays kind of serve as a reason for people to get together. It fosters conversation and if you approach the holidays right you can make some meaningful connections with people that you don’t get to see all that often.
Recently, I’ve kind of been thinking that the holidays are a time for learning. Sure, it can feel good to talk about all the latest things going on in your life with family and friends, but it’s also a time to hear what others are doing.
And it seems that people like being around others that show interest in their lives. The holidays is a great time for asking questions and really just approaching it as a time for learning. You can learn about family and friends. You can get to know them better. You can also learn about what they’re doing and that can lead to discoveries in your personal and professional lives.
Memory & Renewal
It seems like every year when I get together with family and friends that memories are brought up. Some are good. Some are bad. Mostly, though, I would say they’re fond memories. I think it’s healthy to think about the past. Obviously we can’t change the past, but it seems that if we look at the past we can see how far we’ve come.
And that kind of gives me a little optimism for the future. You might be discussing something ten years ago with a good friend and you realize how far you’ve come and how much you’ve changed in those ten years. That gives you a little boost knowing that you can really do a lot in the next ten years.
So that’s kind of a cool aspect of the holidays. You kind of look back on memories, but also get a renewal for the future. Maybe if you’re stuck in a rut it’s a way to get back on track.
One final thought here is on forgiveness. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and how important it is to forgive. I just finished reading the Ricky Skaggs memoir and there was a remarkable story. His son was shot in the face in a crazy incident. Ricky was talking with his son and the song expressed how he wanted to pray for the person that shot him. He wanted to forgive him.
That was a revelation for Ricky. He was feeling all sorts of rage and anger yet here was his son, the one suffering the most, looking to forgive and move on.
The holidays seem to be a source of grudge and resentment for many. I’ve been there. But what’s the point? For our own health it’s so important to forgive. I’m going to try a little more that this year.