Reflecting on Balance and the Holidays

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As the garbage guys haul off the Christmas paper and the kids' toys have a few days of use, the Christmas ornaments begin to get boxed up as we look to New Years Day; I was reflecting a bit on the Christmas Season and that difficult task of trying to strike the right balance.

I like the idea of the movie, Christmas with the Kranks, "We're going to skip Christmas this year and take a cruise."  -- And the social harassment that ensues.

As parents, we of course have the pressures of trying to strike the right balance.   Little Johnny shouldn't get more than little Janie.  What is Santa bringing vs, what are we getting the kids this year?  In years past we've been pretty bad about over-doing it for our kids and under-doing it for everyone else.

As citizens, we start each holiday season with some intentions to give to charity in new ways.  To do more than put a $20 bill in the bell ringer bucket but to volunteer in meaningful ways.   I'd like to have done more in this respect.  It would have been nice to participate in our local Help Portrait, for instance. 

Then, there are Christmas Cards.   For folks that are in our Daily lives, you want to provide a Christmas Card but they know what's going on, so writing the hand-written year-in-review seems redundant.We have friends we haven't seen or talked to in months, relatives we haven't seen or talked to in years.   We love them and it would be nice to sit down and write each of them a letter and at times past we had.   This year, we didn't, just couldn't find the time.  

Then, you start to think how much of this Christmas card thing is happening out of obligation versus true sentiment.   On one hand, we love to get the cards that do come in but on the other hand, the accounting of reciprocity (Jane didn't send us a card this year but we sent her one) is counter-to-the point of the practice.

This year, I think we failed at reaching out to all friends, neighbors and loved-ones but we found a pretty good balance within our core family unit.  The sea of gifts wasn't overbearing but everyone received something that made them smile.  The typical 'we have to go to your parents and then my parents and then to the office party' was reduced significantly with the only surviving parent living with us temporarily.

Still, I saw plenty of bleary-eyed shoppers, swiping the plastic and griping about this-or-that.   Encountered plenty of road-raged drivers and even had to work to keep myself in check when the site-to-store gift pickup at Target didn't go as advertised for one of my kids.

Before December 25th was Christmas, the season was Saturnalia.  It was a carnival atmosphere with parties, gift giving and a little charity towards slaves.  One can imagine the Roman aristocrat putting to death some servant because a Saturnalia meal wasn't prepared correctly.    

That would certainly have made the dried-out-turkey scene in Christmas Vacation go differently, if Cousin Eddie, with the help of the Griswold's, incorporated corporal punishment on the cooking staff over an ill-prepared meal.

So maybe in our Christmas Seasons we are more balanced than those festivals of the past or maybe we are just 'balanced differently' with more focus on commercialism and gift giving than tradition or accepted religious canon.

I still think Luther Krank was onto something with a Christmas Cruise or maybe the President with his annual visit to Hawaii.  

Well, there's always next year :)

Happy Holidays!