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The Holiday Spirit

Posted on : 01-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Holiday, Living in Philadelphia, Personal

Tags: , ,


This weekend we had a lot of fun doing family things to get in the holiday mood.  For those that do not know me well, the holidays are a blah time for me the past few years.  But as Lily and Robyn get older I know that will change.  In a way it started to already this year thanks to Lily, our 2 year old.  So on Friday we had our family holiday picture taken and we went to Koziar’s Christmas Village.  On Saturday we did a little shopping and we went to a place called Peddlers Village to see the “night lights.”  Finally on Sunday I had the opportunity to cook my own Thanksgiving meal.  This Thanksgiving we went to family, which was fun, but in recent years I have cooked so new traditions have been developing.  It is funny how you miss some of those, so we decided to have a mini-version on Sunday with my wife, Lily and Robyn.  It also means we now have leftovers!


I realized this weekend that we sometimes forget the meaning of this time of year.  I do not mean the religious connotation that comes from Christmas or Hanukkah.  I mean the giving spirit and togetherness before the winterfest really takes place.  Most people in the winter spend more time in the house and not as much visiting family and loved ones.  From November to December this is really about family and friends.  Unfortunately when I was driving on Friday and I heard a few news reports that certainly did not have this meaning.  Most of you have heard of both of the incidents by now:  The trampling to death of an employee at WalMart and the shooting at Toys R Us.  Have we truly lost sight of what this time of year is about?


On Thanksgiving we watched a pay per movie movie called “Fred Claus.”  My wife and I were looking for a way to get into the holiday spirit.  We enjoyed the movie, and it started to help.  While watching the movie there was a part in it that talked about how the amount of gifts increased over the years.  It really had me thinking.  While we were driving on Friday, my wife was talking about the candy as Christmas gifts on Little House on the Prairie.   That brings me back to the incidents on Friday.  I still am not sure why the shooting happened at Toys R Us.  Indications are that it was not about a toy, but I am sure it was something just as silly.  At WalMart it was very obvious.  It was a crowd of people rushing in to get some stupid gift that years from now no one will care about.  How stupid is that?  Dr. Judith Rich wrote a good post over at the Huffington Post called “Black Friday At Wal-Mart: The Cost Of Crazed Consumerism.”  In the post she makes a number of recommendations for giving this year.  Here they are:


1) Give an authentic acknowledgment to the people you love. 
2) Look them in the eyes and tell them who they are for you.
3) Open up communication with someone with whom you’ve had a misunderstanding. 
4) Apologize to someone you’ve unfairly judged.
5) Extend kindness to a stranger or offer support to someone and expect nothing in return.


I will add to that (although it fits with #5), with the economic conditions the way they are, consider giving to a charity in the name of someone or group.  Charities are struggling because people are concerned about the future so they are withholding their giving.  You never know when you may be in need of the charity, so choose something close to your heart and try to give something, even if it is small.  On this topic I heard another report this weekend that disturbed me.  It was regarding financial planning and preparation for the end of year tax giving.  It was recommending not giving to charities but doing other things with your funds to maximize the tax benefits.  If this is why you give, it is time to look into your own heart.  Seems like the Scrooge like reason for giving to a charity. 


So this weekend we developed new traditions in our household, do you have any traditions?  How do you show the holiday spirit?