Spreading A Little Holiday Aloha
Wednesday - November 29, 2006
Thanksgiving is over - we now turn our attention to Christmas. Yes, I know, retailers have been in your face with Christmas for weeks already, but I know most of you don’t really pay that much attention until turkey day is over. You may start thinking about it when those first displays go up, which I guess is what the stores want you to do, but have you really started the serious shopping yet?
I thought not.
There’s even a name for it: Christmas Creep. Sounds slimy, like a mold you can’t scrub away, but it’s annoyingly true. Pretty soon we’ll be seeing the displays encroach on Veteran’s Day. Thank goodness the radio stations hold off their holiday play lists until the day after Thanksgiving. I enjoy the music as much as anyone, but there’s a limit to how much of it I can take - and we’re pushing that limit right now.
There are better ways to do Christmas than to succumb to mass-marketing pressure. This year it seems more important than ever to find ways to share the wealth. We can no longer ignore the fact that so many families find it difficult, if not impossible, to celebrate in the spirit of excess. Many of them are no longer on the beach, but they will still be facing a holiday in a shelter.
It doesn’t take homelessness to squelch the spirit. Many people struggle with personal demons that only intensify during the season. The pressure to fit in and put on a happy face can be overwhelming for someone coping with illness, depression or poverty. I spoke with a man today who does not love Christmas. Steve doesn’t hate it. He simply tolerates it. He grew up with a father who lost his own dad four days before Christmas, and a bed-ridden mother who wanted everyone to be happy during the holidays. The conflict between the bitterness of his father and the yearnings of his mother created unbearable emotional stress that he feels to this day. Now he simply brushes Christmas off. He can’t be bothered with the fake cheer or the garish displays of commercial-propelled piety. He doesn’t like Christmas cute. Don’t ask him to play Santa.
But there is one thing Steve doesn’t mind about the holidays: “I like it that people are nicer to each other.”
And that’s what redeems Christmas for him. People are nice. Or at least, there’s an expectation that we’re just a little more open to the concepts of peace on earth and good will toward our fellow human beings.
So if you can afford it, spread the aloha this season. Make a donation to the Hawaii Foodbank, a homeless shelter or the charity of your choice. Remember to include our military men and women in your thoughts and prayers, and to welcome their families into our communities.
This year the agencies that assist our hardest-hit citizens tell us they are seeing a bigger need than ever before. They are asking for our continued support. And if there’s one thing I know about Hawaii folks, it’s that we will step up and help.
Stay sane this holiday season. Spread a little aloha. And remember to have fun.
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