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Skating Through the Holidays

Posted: November 21, 2010

Many of us enthusiastically embrace this time of year. We love buying presents, cooking sumptuous dinners, and visiting families. On the other hand, for many of us this is indisputably the saddest time of year. It is an anguished reminder of being alone. Whether we have families who we'd like to forget, who forgot us, or we simply don't have the money to visit.

Please don't even get me started about flying! I'm sure most of us have the same feelings about that disgusting turn of events. . . . And, at this time of year! Grandparents, nuns, disabled Veterans, and little children! What message does this send young children, when parents are trying to teach them not to let strangers touch them inappropriately?! Groping little children isn't even appropriate for Uncle Sam! . . . Breathe deeply . . . Oooommmm. . . . Now, let's all just calm down and write our Congresspersons! No innocent Americans should endure this humiliation. . . . In my defense, I did ask please. ;-)

Benjamin Franklin's often paraphrased quotation ascribes that those who give up a little essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security. The copious outcries from travelers and those who don't, (in full disclosure, have not used the airways in decades), but who empathize, are already causing some changes. Various organizations are mounting petition e-mail campaigns, whose hopes are high to expect an apology from bureaucrats. Nonetheless, Mr. Franklin would be proud.

Buses may be slower, but a less invasive option. Travelers may be late or miss holiday dinner completely, and if they cut their visits short, can catch the Express back in time for work. On the plus side, dignity will be intact—for now. So, because of the recent turn of events regarding flying, more people may find themselves alone for the holidays.

Society has told us for so long that this is a wonderful time of year, full of cheer and all that stuff. So, be happy. Yet, what if we aren't happy about having to be happy? Don't worry, the way things are going, one governmental party or the other will mandate it.

Scott Leuthold was really onto something in his October 21 blog, 'Making Thanksgiving Meaningful and Memorable.' Perhaps, his advice foresaw that many more people might be alone this year. Turning the season into a spiritual quest is an alternative as many object to the excessive materialistic appeal of Christmas. Communing with nature is one spiritual way to handle the season.

For those who live in concrete jungle skyscrapers, however, room may be scant in Central Park this year, since we are all boycotting the airlines. Let them feel the Public disgust in their pocketbooks! We are together on this? Right? Let the Aviation Lobbies withhold payments to campaign-coffers. We'll see how long strangers diddle, dangle, and disclose our privates. Unfortunately, some lawmakers answer everything with privatization: No doubt, influenced by campaign contributions from those who make the machines. . . . Oooommm. . . . Some are too young to have seen how effective boycotts were in the seventies. Nevertheless, we do have the option of driving to parks and wilderness areas.

What if we can't easily get to them—if at all? Not everyone has cars or can afford high gasoline prices. . . . Oooommm. . . . When we are less able to get around due to climate conditions or have way less money, how can we survive this festive, giving season?

I could say bake cookies and share them with neighbors. That would be too easy. I could say, stop being so extravagant and teach children the value of money: how hard it is to come by. Do not even get me started on allowances.

Well, if you insist. When I was a kid, we got fifty cents a week for doing chores. That's right: $0.50 per week for genuinely working. Maybe that's how parents taught good work ethics and the value of money. When and why did that tradition end? We did not receive extravagant allowances simply because we existed, or felt our parents owed it to us. Yet, life was worse for earlier generations whom parents put to work as farm hands without pay no sooner than they could walk. They probably think parents spoiled my generation.

In many ways the world is getting better. People treat others with more tolerance and respect. Perhaps, however, we have gone a bit overboard when children push parents around.

We seem to swing from one extreme to another, rarely landing in the middle. Middle-of-the-roaders, perhaps, by nature are less boisterous than those with extreme viewpoints, whether on the left-wing or right-wing. I question the term right regarding political points-of-view. It connotes correctness, which is questionable in any political shape.

According to Wikipedia, however, the French coined the terms right-wing and left-wing during the revolution. The terms reflected seating arrangements in Parliament. Those who sat on the right side supported, preserving the monarchy, aristocracy, and established church. Those who sat on the left side supported, radical change, creating a republic, and secularization. It seems we in this country are still fighting the French Revolution.

Nevertheless, being alone during this time of year can be especially challenging. This long holiday gives us time to remember those we loved who are gone from our lives. Just from having lived through many Christmases, many older people have long ago come to terms with holiday blues. Younger people who now live on their own far away from home are more vulnerable to the hype of unrealistic expectations.

We can use these times to come to terms with solitude, making it our friend rather than our enemy. We can connect with our inner or higher selves, remembering, '. . . what peace there may be in silence,' instead of rushing about in department stores and traffic jams.

Expressing generosity during the holidays does not take breaking the bank. Inviting friends to sit around a fire listening to music and sipping wine is a fine way of spending an evening. I spent my most memorable holidays that way. My friends and I had no money to get home. We spent special holidays together, sharing whatever we could afford. It surely beat text-messaging for communicating with friends.

Sending electronic cards is more thoughtful than doing nothing, though paper cards are nicer. Letting those we consider friends know that they are in our thoughts is a good way to express the season. For that matter, giving a hug or thoughtful wish to friends is something wonderful any time of year. If friends expect us to spend loads of money, perhaps, they are less concerned with our friendship than getting something.

I had a friend who always dressed up as Santa, handing out gifts to homeless strangers on Christmas. That was quite magnanimous, especially considering these days when we think too much about ourselves. It feels good making something for those we love. When giving love, we can't be losers. So, no reason exists to be lonely during the holidays.

... stay tuned ...

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