Looking at today’s national and world issues, it’s clear political climates are extremely divisive, mass shootings are at a high and natural disasters are increasing by the day. But I don’t want to dwell on the negative things for this column; instead I want to focus on Christmas.
Now when it comes to this winter holiday, some might also have negative feelings, whether that’s regarding associated music, weather or family reunions. But I want to propose a new way to look at some negative aspects that correlate with the holidays.
Christmas is swiftly approaching, in the Calhoun Times office we have been listening to holiday songs nonstop. And while Thanksgiving has indeed come and past, I think we should still be practicing thankfulness each day and recognizing the blessings we do have. I think participating in Christmas also means being thankful for what we do have, the people in our lives, and the ability to love them through giving them our gifts and our time.
So for this holiday season, here are a few eccentric ways to turn potentially negative things into something for which to give thanks.
Instead of viewing the task of shopping as a chore or as another time to brave crowds and traffic, try viewing it as an opportunity to spend time thinking about and caring for those you love. I think everyone can agree that trying to find the perfect gift in the middle of a busy outlet mall can be intimidating. But what if we tried to be thankful for the opportunity and the resources to be able to give gifts? If you’re out shopping, take time to realize the freedom you had to get in your car, pay for gas, go to a store of your choice, select something you think a loved one will enjoy, buy that item and give it to them on a holiday where you also have time to spend with them.
Instead of complaining about the weather, appreciate the chance to experience varying temperatures. Last weekend, when the weather was in the 70s and felt like spring had arrived early, I heard a lot of valid comments about how it was unusual to have such temperatures in December. Being a fan of winter weather, I was personally tempted to complain that I wasn’t able to wear my new coat and scarf. But I remembered a friend of mine who once shared some wisdom with me. She said there will always be people who complain about winter weather, people who will complain about summer weather and people who just complain regardless of the season. She then said that she just tries to enjoy whatever weather comes her way, since she has no power over what each day’s temperatures will be. While this goal defies a natural instinct to complain, I think it’s a good piece of advice, and is something that I will try to start doing.
Instead of dreading family meals and the looming conversations/arguments regarding politics, relationships, grades or career progress, try viewing it as an opportunity to listen, share and be together. In my past column, I talked about the importance of listening to others and appreciating the stories that they have to offer. That doesn’t mean I agree with every opinion that I hear (at all). It just means I have a personal goal for myself of listening and hearing what other people have to say. I don’t always succeed, but appreciating the time that I do have with family and friends is something I always try to do, regardless of what conversation topics are brought up. (Plus, what’s a holiday meal without a little tension and heated debating anyways?)
Instead of being tired of Christmas music, and I know quite a few people are exhausted by the classic songs that cycle on the radio, take the time to appreciate that this is the only time of year this genre of music is acceptably played on the radio. These songs are a special addition to the holiday season. And if you understandably get tired of the Michael Buble album or Frank Sinatra standards, I recommend spicing it up by checking out some of the contemporary Christmas albums that have been recently released.
Traffic. Undeniably one of the most irritating parts of the holidays. And though this one is much easier said than done, I’m going to put it out there anyways. Instead of complaining about slow drivers, honking your horn when others are obviously distractedly driving and flipping a finger to people who cut you off, what if we try to appreciate the facts that we have running and working cars, that we have the ability to drive when and where we want and that we have loyal local police departments that work so hard to keep our roads safe. It can get very frustrating when roads get clogged up with commuters, shoppers and even with winter snow/ice/slush when that time comes. But this time of year, what if we take a little more time to get to where we’re going, show the Christmas spirit by showing grace to fellow drivers and express thankfulness for the ability to get out on the road in our own cars.
These few pieces of advice are not only ones that I recommend, but ones that I will also try to put into practice this month, and hopefully, in the months to follow as well. The beautiful lights in downtown Calhoun and the lovely local shop owners make it that much easier to enjoy shopping. The unpredictable weather of Northwest Georgia always offers a fun surprise, and Christmas will still be held on the same day regardless of the winter wind or spring-like temperatures. Holiday meals offer a chance to catch up with people you might not have seen in a while, and bonding over holiday cooking is always easier when there are some Christmas jams playing in the background. And bumper-to-bumper traffic simply offers another chance to listen to timeless originals on the radio and take our time to safely get to where we’re going.
Let’s all try to think positively about the things that typically irritate us during December and show the true Christmas spirit through renewed attitudes.
Alexis Draut is a recent Berry College graduate and a staff writer for the Calhoun Times.