With the Holidays just a few short hours away I wanted to be thoughtful. I wanted to post something about de-stressing during the Holidays. I wanted to have some sure-fire, brand new advice on how to handle all the hype and barrage of advertising. I wanted to tell everyone that all those beautiful scenes you see on the television and magazines are really not how it happens. I wanted to remind people that all those lovely "scenes" are designed to get you to buy their products. I wanted to say that the Holidays should be celebrated in your heart...That I would make a hefty bet that anyone who cares about you and loves you would rather have your presence than presents. I wanted to tell everyone that everything would be ok...you'll get through the next month and a half and everything will return to normal.
Then I thought...there are people out there that all of this doesn't matter to. They could give a damn about "getting back to normal" or about what gift they will or will not receive. They don't SEE magazines or television. And they certainly would have no need for "de-stressing tips"...their lives ARE stress. These people live in countries, neighborhoods and cities where they are in danger simply because they are standing up for their beliefs and what they think is right.
Who are these people, you ask? They're everywhere. Half a world away and right next door. They are doctors, lawyers, janitors, cashiers, waitresses...blue collar and white collar alike. And they are standing up for what they believe.
I see it every single time I teach for SEASPAR. I see parents standing up for the rights of their children to be included and participate in life to the fullest. I see these parents and wonder where the heck they get their strength.
I see it in many parents of my private students and students at the Darien Park District. These parents are juggling work, health problems, other children, disabilities of their own and their children. Some of them are struggling with providing the best for their children while their marriages have either fallen apart or are currently degrading. All they want is for their children to be happy.
I recently traveled to Washington, D.C. (actually Reston, VA) to celebrate my youngest niece's birthday. I usually try to stay to myself. Read my Kindle. Stay in my own bubble.
Well, that didn't happen. And I'm glad it didn't. When I got my seat on the plane I was slightly dismayed that I had a seatmate. The middle seat was vacant and i had the window but I just wanted to be by myself. Kinda funny. Didn't happen. The gentleman that sat down was a flight attendant for the airline. He was deadheading back to D.C. Then taking a car to his home in Charlotte. He hadn't seen his husband in a week. Too long, he said. Their agreement is no longer than 2-3 days. But he needs to work when he can. We got talking. And you know what I found out? Him and his partner got married in Massachusetts. Then made the conscious decision to live in Charlotte...not the most "equality friendly" state in the union. He does not "flaunt" his decision to be married. He is certainly not an "in your face" kind of guy. As a matter of fact he was married and has 2 kids...and 6 grandchildren. I could go on and on. But let me tell you-THIS is a person who knows what he believes in and is not to show what he stands for.
I deplaned and went to baggage claim. There was an older gentleman there pushing someone in a wheelchair. He was from India. He has been here for 15 years. He came with his son. His immediate concern? Teach his son and himself English. Has had and still has several jobs to live. But he still says he wouldn't live in any other country. He has yet to get the rest of his family here, but he is saving enough for one at a time. He hopes to have his entire family here before he dies. Believes in hard work pays off. That's what he believes.
All of the people during this difficult election who worked tirelessly to get their points across...they believed something and acted on it. Regardless of what side you fell on, you certainly knew where people stood. Disturbing in some cases but definitely enlightening. But you know what? These people stood up for their beliefs. THAT at least is commendable.
As I write this, the conflict with Israel and Palestine has escalated to an absolute horror. Admittedly, I do not understand the whole situation. However, I DO understand that people are dying and being killed. I also understand that for some reason their beliefs are so strong that neither side can compromise. I wonder why that is. After watching the news, it hit me- do I have anything that I would stand for and believe in like these people do?
Is there anything or anyone that I believe in SO much that I would gladly put my life on the line for? There is. There are several.
However, my question is to YOU. What do YOU stand for? What do YOU believe in? What would YOU put your life on the line for?
Think about this during the next month and a half. Every time you want to pick up "just one more" useless gift...or "just a little bit more"... think about what it REALLY means in the grand scheme of things. Will it really matter if there is one more toy under that tree? Or would it matter more if you, as a person, were the best person you could be for everyone around you? What would your friends, family, people who love and care about you rather have a present... or your PRESENCE?
Then maybe after the Holidays, you will continue the thought of being the best you can be...standing up for what you believe in ... helping instead of hindering.
That's my big "advice" for the Holidays.
Presence before Presents. Always works.
Thanks for reading. Have a fantastic Holiday season. As always eat well, stay healthy and be happy.