The original article was written for and published in the LUXIDERS magazine.
The conditions of the second wave and lockdown rules vary from country to country, yet there is one thing that unites us all: Christmas celebration this year is going to be different from our customs of the holiday. Along with limited store capacity, cancelled markets and events that used to define the appearance of the most festive month, the whole image of the festivity itself started shifting.
Now, instead of choosing an outfit to attend Nutcracker ballet, one embraces all left resources of self-control balancing between staying mentally sane, healthy, taking care of vulnerable relatives, and managing insatiable, uncertain financial situations. This winter, along with the list of gifts and dinner menu, expands a list of concerns that most of us will take along into a new year. At this point, we ought to admit that while the whole year had been full of calamity, of unexpected, unpleasant events, a heart-warming celebration of Christmas is something that could become a haven, even a confrontation to all those things that caused devastation.
Therefore, to find peace in such deserved celebration, we ought to understand the difference of actions that need to be taken to make the day of Christmas special, to make it the day that would remind us that hope still exists, that the coming new year is yet to bring miracles and healing.
COMMERCIALIZATION OF THE HOLIDAY
If we look back at previous years, our most associations with Christmas days come along with the constant rush of gift shopping, decorating and then a jubilant gathering with family or friends. As it all has the place to be a part of the holiday, in the midst of those dashing days, we tend to forget to slow ourselves down and to perceive the season fully through actions of love, simple family traditions and a mindful atmosphere all around. As Christmas, frankly, like any other holiday, becomes more and more commercialized, as it loses its religious roots, and for many people becomes a cultural form of celebration, its biggest and most important part is vanishing in between decorated windows, and shopping bags. And, suddenly, when this year everything changed so rapidly, we perhaps received a chance for a slower Christmas where reflection, concentration on every single moment matters more than material goods. Now, it is not about avoiding established festive routines of decorating and shopping; it is merely about slowing the pace down, about creating joy rather than imitating it.
While we still watch the positive impact of charitable works during the holiday season, and hearts of many are filled with love and care to those around, it is rather needless to deny the fact that impact retail giants, advertisement, and the whole strategy of what exactly we can purchase to become merrier, occupied the way we now perceive celebration of Christmas day. According to the Massachusetts Daily, “In today’s society, Christmas is used simply as a marketing ploy so that greedy corporations can take consumers’ money. In 2016, the total expected holiday sales were expected to exceed $1 trillion, and this number is projected to keep rising every year. With the holiday shopping season expanding, that leaves more time for retail companies to manipulate what used to be a wholesome day for families to celebrate into something materialistic and superficial.”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
One can certainly apply some simple changes to a circle of constant pre-holiday consumerism, and instead, focus on what emotions this or that gift withdraws. With the same intention to observe every possibility for a change, one can start with shopping small and local, with getting what truly would bring joy to the loved ones other than getting something for the sake of established routine. After that, and this year contributes to such activity, you can always focus on mindful, gradual evenings with candlelight, cheerful music and the company of the most important ones. To say that this year we perhaps were granted much more time than before is to understand that it is our responsibility now how to spend that time wisely. As there is no more excuse about running to different parties, thus running out of time, every detail, every scent and every baked cookie can be thought through. As a matter of fact a mindfully spend time during this holiday season can become a part of something bigger that at the end would allow a peaceful state of mind in the midst of the fabricated rush. Also, as struggles for many are rising, the time and effort that previously would be spent on all those gleaming but exhausting activities this year could be dedicated to profound care of those in need. “The next may be the assertion of our purpose to express the spirit of Christmas by gifts which shall signify one of three things (or, perhaps, all of them): Love; Friendship; Human kindness. Such gifts do not imply money; they do not necessitate fatigue; they have nothing to do with debtors and creditors; and they never know the secrecy which is shame,” said Margareth Deland, an American novelist, in 1904 and how those words still resonate with us today.