|Christmas Is Trying to Kill Me|
|Tuesday, 18 December 2012 00:00 | Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry|
Whoa, what has happened to my world in the last three weeks? Just when I thought Los Angeles traffic couldn't get more ridiculous, parking structures more cumbersome, or drivers grumpier and less safe, the holiday season began.
I'm driving to an audition, which is a usual part of my day, and suddenly there are three cars in front of me making dangerously bad moves and screaming out their windows about who is 'right'—like children... like jerks. I wonder if they even realize how miserable their holiday cheer has become?
I wasn't raised to follow any specific religion. In fact, more than preaching or teaching any religious point of view to me as a child, my parents were vocal about not choosing to support "organized" religion. Which I get. I totally get it. So Christmas was literally a family get together in my early years. It was the time when I got to see my cousins-in-law, great-grandmas and special-invite boyfriends all in one living room. My immediate family made ornaments, harmonized our favorite songs in the Astro van, watched the old black and white Scrooge on television. These were the rituals that marked our celebration.
But now, after a near miss in the parking lot, I'm afraid for my life and afraid for humanity… because of Christmas. And I'm afraid for the environment, because what all this traffic tells me is that people want to shop. Some unconscious desire to buy more, more, more is upon us and it doesn't take a huge leap of intellect to realize the result: depleted resources and increased pollution. There's the wrapping paper used once and then thrown away. The plastic packaging that invariably holds our gifts. The gifts themselves—I mean, how many trinkets, accessories and stocking stuffers do we need? Are we just spending money we don't have on things that don't matter, packaged in plastic that doesn't degrade, wrapped in paper that lived a half-used life and calling it Christmas? Is this really our holiday? No wonder that a mom in aisle nine is yelling at her greedy children right now.
And I'm worried for people's health. I know how difficult it is to sit down to a meal with extended family who don't know what an avocado is or how to pick one out at the grocery store. It's difficult to stay on a healthy diet at the holiday table. Especially with co-workers shoving chocolates on your desk, teachers bringing cookies to school, and aunts making fruit cake, buckeyes, peanut brittle, Chex mix and eggnog to send home. With the extra weight she's putting on, and with all that refined sugar, dairy and hydrogenated oil coursing through her arteries, I can see why the postal-service cashier was flat out insulting to me today… because it's Christmas!
But solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah—indeed, this entire holiday season—does not have to be synonymous with candy canes, road rage and unconscious consumerism. It could just as easily be about making your own gifts, regifting an already loved item, or creating an experience instead of giving any object away at all. The holidays could just as easily be about reusing gift boxes and newspaper for wrapping (then using them again after). We could create new food rituals to replace our outdated ones; instead of whipping up the old eggnog, whip up some banana ice cream with cinnamon, vanilla and cacao sauce drizzled on top. The new holiday customs could be about donating to charitable organizations, like I have this year (see list below), and sending gift cards to let friends and family know you donated in their honor. I have given gifts of donation this year and received gifts of donation, too, and being on both ends really feels good. I like that kind of gift. Yea, Christmas! This is my kind of ritual!
As I am sitting here waiting for an unhappy family of four, overburdened with bags and objects—on which they just spent more money than they have—to cross the street, I wonder to myself: Are our holiday rituals so far gone that they need to die altogether before our nation's humanity can progress again? Or can some intentional ritual-creating allow us to reclaim our holiday and our future?
Rituals are important to society. Birth, menstruation, graduation, marriage, death… are all marked by social ritual. It's vital that we remain conscious creators of the rituals we use to celebrate family and the turning of the year.
To celebrate my family, I would like to formulate rituals of health and long life. My extended family is my community and I would like to devise rituals of friendliness and patience. My grandest family is the Earth I walk on and all of its creatures. For them, I'd like to develop rituals of compassion and protection. I'd like to replace all the backwards customs we now use to celebrate the holidays with customs quite their opposite. Are there others out there reclaiming rituals? If so, what are you doing as a pioneer of the ecstatic life?
Organizations to which I've donated in the past:
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