I feel tension rising. I see it on people’s faces, I read it on Facebook updates, I sense it in myself.
The biggest holiday/family celebration of the year approaches. The question many are asking: Will it be perfect? Will we have done necessary to make it the ideal holiday? Will all the children be happy? Will all the adults get along with each other? Will the food be both good and in sufficient amount? Will the house look festive enough? Are extra gifts ready just in case?
Lots of focus on the perfect family celebration, as if Norman Rockwell painted anything that really resembled normal lives.
When it is over, most will be disappointed in some way. The Rockwell ideal of this holiday never seems to realize itself.
Children prefer the boxes the toys come in to the actual toys. They don’t properly thank gift-givers for unwanted sweaters and underwear.
The mentally and emotionally fragile reach the spilling-over range by too much family, too much stimulation, too many stimulants, namely alcohol and sugar.
The coordinators of all the festivities, generally the women/wives/mothers, give into exhaustion and are unable to fully enjoy it.
Peace, the peace promised by the entrance of the Savior, slips away.
I personally think a big reason behind all the holiday activities is the need to push back the deepening darkness of our shortened days. Today, December 22, is the first official day of winter. It is also the day that the days begin to lengthen in the northern hemisphere. Yesterday was the shortest day of the year.
Each year, I find myself wondering if I can hang on until the day-length cycle reverses itself. Busyness and lots of light seem to help but perhaps those are the opposite of what we really need.
I think the body may be calling for more sleep during this time, more down time, more real rest. Our current habits deny those physiological needs. We’re out late, up early, swamped with tasks, eating and drinking too much to keep going and end up paying a big price in health, both physical and mental, over the next few weeks.
Many just slog through January, reaping the aftermath of this season, and unable to appreciate and celebrate the renewal preparing to burst through, especially here in the south.
The human challenge: have fun and not destroy ourselves. I wonder if we’ll ever figure it out.