Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It's Time to Embrace Holiday Traditions and Join Your Community

Before everyone begins hating on the Holiday-Christmas-Kwanzaa et al season, can I broach a thinking thinky here?

Although it's true that a large part of the promotion in our society is obviously to maximize profits, the act of anticipating and celebrating seasons has been around FOWEVER, Folks.

For those of us who aren't insane, and do NOT appreciate the end of life (aka sunshine, happiness, warmth, survival, etc), the oncoming season of darkness can be horrible. Back in the wonderful olden days, it literally did represent the harbinger of death, as many people became ill or starved through the winter. Once the harvest celebrating was complete, the townspeople needed to do a quick calculation: did they have enough food stored away to save everyone? Were their homes weather proof enough? Who was going to make it, and who was going to lose out in the game of life?

This age old process of creating festival after festival, holiday after holiday, entire seasons such as Advent season leading up to Christmas, then the Christmas season going on until February...it's all about keeping people together as a community, keeping them fed, encouraging people to be generous (e.g. to share food with their starving neighbors), and making sure everyone gets through the season. Together. In an uplifting way.

Look at Diwali. It literally translates to festival of lamps, or festival of lights. People gather together to celebrate the triumph of good over evil by lighting up the darkness, shooting off fireworks, and wearing new clothes. They pass out gifts and treats to their family and friends.

Look at the traditional Germanic Yule holiday. The emphasis is on feasting together, massive feasting. Look at Saturnalia, the celebration of the return of light midway through the winter solstice. During that time, again, everyone feasted together and it was one of the rare occasions where slaves were permitted to feast like their masters. A famous poet, Catullus, called it the "best of days."


The symbolism is clear.


Maybe the reality is no longer true in the strictest sense of the word for most of us in a developed country. Most of aren't going to die from starvation or lack of clean water, or minor infections. Most of us have enough money to heat our homes and buy gifts for our family and friends.

Not everyone, though. And these celebrations help us move forward, together. These holidays help us to stay connected with others. Whether for physical reasons, such as sharing resources, or mental reasons, which might be more applicable in the modern age. They give us a context and a reason to stay positive, happy, and relaxed. They give us a designated time to turn off our electronics, to visit another person in their home, to make human contact. Even on the darkest night of the year.

So when you want to start bashing the decorations and complaining about holiday music on the radio, maybe it's time to pause for a thinky. Maybe instead of calling human customs stupid, you can send a card to that friend you hardly see around because she's been struggling with anxiety lately. Maybe instead of saying these celebrations are a money grab, you can bake some cookies and walk them down the street to the elderly husband and wife who never have visitors. Or maybe you can just swallow your overall hatred and put up some decorations so people driving by on their zombie-commute to a dead end job can feel a little brighter for the day.

No, you don't have to wear an ugly sweater and drink eggnog if you hate those ideas. No, you don't have to buy slave-made decorations or put up a lead-filled, artificial tree if you want to stay true to your principles. You can still make conscious changes to embrace this winter season, to integrate into your community, and to embark on an ancient journey through the darkness just as millions did before us, though.



And for those who are recovering from Cluster Parenting Abuse, sometimes what people call narcissistic or disordered family abuse, it's actually vital to find a new way to embrace these seasons, with new traditions that are positive in your own family. It's important to reach out, to search around for a new and healthy community. Toxic people love to use the weapon of isolation, so that's how most survivors are when they finally leave (or escape). They are isolated, alone. Outside of the rhythms and support of the human ecosystem. Finding a way back in, re-growing a healthy support network, is another healing step on this journey, and it will take you out of the metaphysical darkness just as surely as these festivals of light remind us that the darkness is coming to an end.

 Just a thinky thought.

It turns out our little family loves to celebrate Krampus and St. Nick's.
(We do not lie to our children about these characters, and can all still have a good time.)


Related Resources

Holidays and the Narcissistic Grudge Read this one!
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The Narc's Devalue and Discard

Why Narcissistic People Love to Ruin Holidays

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