Rituals Known As Holidays

In my youth I always felt sympathy for people who didn’t celebrate some or any holidays, especially those days I held dearest. Birthdays were an occasion to feel special, a “my day” event that everyone received in their own honor. As I grew older, birthdays became a mile marker to chart my accomplishments and celebrate surviving another trip around the sun.

Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, New Year’s Eve & Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, the 4th of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day are each their own event with designated themes and appropriate behavior fully expected. We even have new holidays and events which have been crafted just for us modern people such as Superbowl Sunday and Black Friday.

Then there are the sometimes holidays. These are observed in different regions of the U.S. and by various government agencies and include Columbus Day and Veterans Day; sometimes legal Mondays, closing offices, public schools and services and sometimes not.

Public schools in America can acknowledge additional holidays depending upon the demographics of the students and the school boards. In New Jersey, children have all the primary Jewish holidays as days off from school. In Greensboro, NC, schools shut down during the GGO aka The Greater Greensboro Open PGA golf tournament. Many schools now have special activities and programs for Earth Day and Kwanza.

Several things happen as we pile up the number of feel-good “special days” to our calendar. First and foremost, they become special days, explicitly stating these days are more special than others. I tend to think every day is its own unique day and very special at that. If life is indeed a gift, then awakening to each and every day and personally giving it the gratitude it is due makes appointed days on the calendar unspecial-er.

Second, designated feel-good holidays often supply a backdoor for people to opt out of honoring people or concepts on a regular basis. It has become perfectly acceptable to feel we have acknowledged older parents with a special gesture and a card on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. There is even a Grandparent’s Day now. And after all, life is busy and complicated. It seems good to let them know we still care, right?

But perhaps if we were to find ways to show we value and honor our elders on an ongoing basis rather than on an appointed ritual day, we people wouldn’t be doomed to repeat the same mistakes our ancestors did again and again. We could learn from those who know a thing or two more than us if only we took the time.

Earth Day is no different, just a larger concept. If people seriously show honor and make an effort to give something back to the Earth because it seems to be important, then why is it only one day each year?

Then there is the marketing. Corporations have now perfected driving herds to group behavior which includes spending, spending and more spending on gifts, travel, specialty foods, lawn decorations, candy, flowers, balloons, booze, party clothes, football clothes, pine trees, wrapping paper, cakes, indoor decor.....the list just goes on. The “experience” of celebrating has been redefined as basking in the products and services surrounding the event.

But the worst thing about all these appointed days is clearly the expectations. We have all had that birthday where we were disappointed. Perhaps one or more people forgot it was that special day. Maybe that certain present never materialized. The day was dampened by the realization the “special day” was really only extraordinary for me.

disappointment

Thanksgiving and Christmas have taken on such epic proportions of grand expectations that few can live up to the height with which these events have been elevated to, even for those fortunate enough to have access to plenty of disposable income. Usually family, sometimes neighbors and/or co-workers, have specific ideas regarding meals, parties and gift exchanging. These rituals are to be carried out while putting aside all petty differences, which generally prevent us from gathering daily in the same giving and generous manner. Heaven help the one who “ruins it” by copping an attitude, thus becoming the cautionary tale for the next several events.

Often on holidays we expect many things from others, perhaps without even realizing it. We expect others to acknowledge the day because we feel it holds a special meaning for us. We expect others to respect our beliefs and views that surround the event, even if they have a different perspective. When we go through life expecting behavior from others, we hand over the power to be disappointed or pleased to others. This is diametrically opposed to being completely responsible for our own happiness, a personally Sovereign quality seldom understood in modern society.

As I have explained in previous articles, getting together with Cognitive Dissonance was, and continues to be, a huge learning experience for both of us. We may have bumped into each other on the threads of ZeroHedge, but that was the extent of our common ground. We hail from different universes. Our conversations went something like this.

Me - "You don’t want a birthday cake? You don’t want to celebrate?"

Cog - "What is celebrating?"

Me - "Acknowledging a mile-marker to measure your life. It’s a special day."

Cog - "Why is it special?"

Me - "Well, you made it another year without getting dead. It is an accomplishment."

Cog - "Every day is an accomplishment. Why do something different for a particular one?"

Rarely does Cog answer a question, as you just witnessed. Often, I am left with bigger questions. Tying my shoes has become a learning experience.

But after a couple years of me not making too big of a deal for any ritual day and Cog not minding too much if I went a bit overboard with various excesses to mark the day, I have come to the conclusion every day is to be honored. Further, people or concepts that are important enough to recognize on a special day should be so every single day, whether in thought or through actions.

We know the date of our anniversary, but that day is no more special to us than any other because we honor our relationship and commitment on a daily basis. We do not feel we need a certain day for particular activities to show each other or others our devotion to one another. We do not need to wait until that day to celebrate being together to do something out of the ordinary.

If one of us needs or wants something, we buy it then if it is within our means. When we are near a town and want to eat out, we do so. I keep treats on hand at home for occasions when we decide to enjoy them. We don’t “expect” one another to perform in any certain way on the days that once monopolized our efforts, although we do wish one another a happy day. It could be argued this is one way we have reclaimed our Sovereignty.

As with all things there are consequences for our decisions. In this case, to exert personal freedoms as Sovereign beings with respect to the calendar and holidays, it has elicited a variety of reactions from friends and family members, mostly from those who have no idea how to respond.

There are those who do not acknowledge us for any holiday because they have decided, without conversation, that they are off the hook since we don’t “celebrate”. A few loud and well-meaning family members say, “I know you don’t really do much for the holiday, but happy day and here is what we did,” presumably so we can live vicariously through their joy. But the norm is those people who send cards and acknowledge dates because that is what they have always done and just what people do. And to us, any of these reactions are fine. To each his or her own.

Cog and I are both very different from the days when we raised our children, all now adults except one. We have no expectations of deprogramming them or hoping they will jump on a more esoteric band wagon with respect to holidays. Because we were responsible for shaping their expectations, we make sure they know they are remembered on birthdays and Christmas. While we have recently made a more specific effort to have gifts be useful and practical rather than a monetary gesture, the expected act of showing we care is accomplished, even though not always appreciated with enthusiasm. We hope that age and maturity will help with that.

Crying holiday

We still buy cards for our mothers for Mother’s Days and their birthdays. This past year I actually texted most of my children from the card isle when buying my mother a card and insisted they NOT spend money on a card, as I was floored most are well past $6.00 now. A text, a phone call, an email or even a written letter is more appreciated, knowing they didn’t feed the consumer beast.

Without marking new holidays for us to celebrate (or not) such as the Winter Solstice, I enjoy the festive white lights and deep red poinsettias I have always associated with the Christmas and New Year holidays. As such, I have no reluctance to adorn our hearth with an enjoyable beginning to Wintertime and the start of a new cycle.

As I begin to embody what it means to be Sovereign, it seems important I recognize symbols are only what we define them to represent. Just because I may choose to break the connection with which a symbol has been programmed by institutions and corporations, it does not prevent me from enjoying an esthetic response and forming newer and healthy connections in doing so.

We have no problem wishing a happy celebration to others who do things the old fashioned way. It’s fine for others to wish us well for these occasions too, whether or not we “celebrate” with balloons, fir trees and parties.

The real gift in all this has been getting up in the morning the day after my birthday or Christmas, feeling and knowing it is every bit as amazing as the day before it. Just think, what if every day were Christmas? Well maybe it is.

we make our pets participate

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