It may not sound like it at first, but this is a positive column. So hang with me. But I feel I have to talk about the bad to get you in the frame of mind to realize the potential for good.
Holidays are a tough time for many people for a number of reasons. I’ll just name a few:
•When you were young you never got what you wanted, or someone you know received something better.
•People made fun of you because of what you got, or didn’t get, at Christmas.
•Your family always fought or drank too much at Christmas.
•When you were a kid, everything was magical, but when you’re older it’s not – no matter how hard you try.
•Something bad happened, like someone you love died.
•You can’t afford to buy someone what you want to.
•There was a lot of arguing because people would get frustrated with too much to do and not enough time.
•There is so much pressure to buy and get stuff that you spend too much and regret it later.
•The holidays are never what you expect. People disappoint you.
It’s likely you can relate to at least a few of those, and there are many more. The problem is so many people in our country are selfish. If you look at that list, most of it is about me, me, me.
I have found over the years that it really is more fun to give than receive. That’s not malarky, like I used to think it was. It seems I was never satisfied with what I got. But when my focus went on others it was so much fun, surprising people with gifts, even little ones.
I’m not just talking about kids and grandkids here. That was fun for a while. But when they have so much stuff already. And they still want more even though that great, really expensive toy you got them last year is in the closet or already thrown away. What’s most fun is giving stuff to strangers. I like getting a tag off a Christmas tree and buying for kids I don’t know. In my mind I at least dream that child really appreciates it. Sure, the family could be scamming, but I put that out of my head. I hope whatever nonprofit is involved is vetting their clients.
Marysville and Arlington both have amazing nonprofits that do so much for families over the holidays. Many are very savvy about getting stuff. I like to help those who are not.
Another thing I’ve done more of recently is shop locally. Sure, it usually costs a little more than the Big Box stores. But I’m tired of them getting rich, while the little businessman I live near in town is fighting to stay afloat. Both Arlington and Marysville are having activities on Shop Small Saturday after Thanksgiving to make it even more fun.
The local businessman usually is a little more appreciative of the business. The items often can’t be found in chain stores so they are unique. Crowds are smaller, so if you are rushed it’s worth the extra buck to save time. I just feel better helping them out. That has helped my frame of my during the holidays, too.
Another thing that keeps me happy during the holidays is I remember Christ in Christmas. I love going to church anyway, but it is so much more fun at Christmas time. It really helps keep me stay grounded. If you’re feeling down there’s nothing like singing Christmas carols to get you out of that funk. While people elsewhere are not always nicer during the holidays, they do seem to be happier at church.
Remember what is really important – not the gifts – the love and time spent together. It’s not forever. Enjoy it while you can. Take some of the pressure off yourself and don’t try to do everything.
And don’t try to do everything perfect. You’ll enjoy this holiday much more if you follow that advice.
Steve Powell is the managing editor of The Marysville Globe and The Arlington Times.