Every TV commercial says “Buy, Buy, Buy.” Some even suggest that you get a loan so you can buy those expensive gifts you think each member of your family wants (and needs?) After all, will 5 year old Tommy ever respect you again if you don’t give him his own cell phone with music, video and text messaging? (of course he can’t read or spell but so what?) Will 13 year old Jessica forgive you if she doesn’t receive those $120 designer jeans? Does your wife expect diamonds or your husband expect a Rolex even though you’re on a tight budget? Or, hey, how about having twin Mercedes sitting in the driveway on Christmas morning like the commercials instruct?
At the foundation of self improvement is knowing what you believe and how that belief system shows up in your everyday life. When your beliefs are yours and not what you were told you must believe and your boundaries are clear, you can celebrate how you choose to celebrate. That celebration may be traditional or avant guarde and it will be meaningful to you. You may choose not to celebrate at all and that is certainly an option as well. Being able to do this requires high self esteem and balance in your life.
Let’s look at the holidays we celebrate:
Christmas: a celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Hanukkah (Chanukah): the festival of lights that celebrates the rededication of the temple at the time of the Macabee rebellion.
Kwanzaa: a unique African American celebration with focus on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement. Kwanzaa is neither political nor religious and despite some misconceptions, is not a substitute for Christmas. It is simply a time of reaffirming African-American people, their ancestors and culture. http://www.tike.com/celeb-kw.htm
Two are religious celebrations and one is a celebration of family and culture. I know the history of Santa Claus and, essentially, it has nothing to do with the above three celebrations and Santa doesn’t relate to the present day commercialism, either.
No, my name is not Scrooge and I love the gifting at Christmas/Hannukah as much as anyone. I love the smell of all that wonderful food, the pine scent of the tree, and the scent of candles. I love the excitement of the children and their eagerness to shred the fancy paper and get to what it hides. I love the family coming together and talking about old times and what-might-have-been as well as what is now. I love seeing the new babies, and hugging the grandmas and grandads and seeing how much the nieces and nephews have grown. But, give me a break. What does this have to do with Christmas, Hannukah or Kwanzaa?
Let’s at least get honest about what it is we are celebrating and let’s make our own rules about exactly how we want to celebrate it. Don’t let peer pressure or the merchandisers tell you what to do or what and how much to buy or how it is you will celebrate Christmas, Hannukuh or Kwanzaa.
Irene Conlan has a master's degree in nursing, with a major in nursing administration and a minor in psychiatric nursing. She taught nursing at Arizona State University, served as Director of Nursing Administration at St. Luke's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix and served as Assistant Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services for the Division of Health Care Facilities and Emergency Medical Services. Now retired, she is an avid blogger and manages http://www.theselfimprovementblog.com http://www.theselfesteemblog.com and hosts the Self Improvement Radio Show on VoiceAmerica. Irene lives in Scottsdale AZ and has two sons and three grandsons.