So people who are not traveling, searching for apartments, trying to register for classes, or figuring out how to transfer dollars into pounds tell me that it's almost October. Which means the onslaught of holidays is almost upon us. Gah! Did I mention I HAVEN'T FOUND AN APARTMENT YET?!!!
Okay, um, clearly I have a one-track mind at the moment, but, back to the holidays....
As Halloween approaches, and then Thanksgiving and then Christmas, it is easy to get caught up in the commercialization and rampant materialism. It's not unusual for even a non-consumer to want to spend money on decorations, or to rush through the thrift-store searching for something! anything! to get for friends and family. We like holidays because they offer us ritual, connection with people, and something to celebrate. And when the ritual involves buying 20 presents at the mall, we participate in that ritual. Even if it's not necessarily a ritual we would have chose ourselves.
So how does one celebrate the holidays without breaking the bank, or giving in to the rituals of materialism? Develop new rituals.
A couple years ago, I was going through a bad time missing my dad. The King decided I needed cheering up, so he took me to the Day of the Dead festival on Olvera Street. For those of you that aren't aware, Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrating the dead that takes place on November 1st.
We wandered through the street, taking in the free dance shows, and other festivities. Then we walked into an area of the church where a little art gallery was set up. One of the exhibits allowed people to write letters to the dead, and the letters were then placed in a decorated box that was supposedly the mail box for heaven.
You don't have to be religious to see the value in writing a letter to the dead. So, even though I thought it might feel weird, I bit the bullet, and wrote out a long letter to my dad. When I had finished, I was crying, but I felt a release. I put the letter in the mailbox to heaven, and we went out and lit a candle for my dad.
I really felt that year, that I celebrated the true meaning of the Day of the Dead. I didn't buy any of the ubiquitous skeleton figurines. I didn't decorate my house in cobwebs. I didn't dress up. But I participated in the community festivities. I connected with my father. And in the process I made new rituals for myself.
So as the holidays approach, I suggest the same for you. Don't shy away from holidays necessarily. Attend free community festivities. Spend time with friends and family. Host a potluck in your home. Develop new rituals. And try to enjoy things without stressing out.
Because holidays are not, at base, about buying stuff. They are about ritual and togetherness.
What are some of the non-consumeristic holiday rituals you've developed?
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