There are many reasons why the answer is yes, but the best is that it gives us time to share with those in need
The holiday season is upon us. Christmas, New Year, Hanukah Diwali, Kwanza and probably others all seem to congregate around the time of the winter solstice. Holiday lights, seasonal music and endless ads do not let us forget that this is a special time of year.
Most of the usual year-end holidays originate within a religion. Christmas, of course, is Christian, although an Asian immigrant family came to Canada and enjoyed the tree, turkey and presents for 10 years before realizing the holiday’s origins. But recent surveys show that in Canada, and many other countries, at least half the population does not follow any religious traditions or practices.
With increasing numbers no longer finding Christ in Christmas and traditional religious and spiritual practices fading into the other festivities, should we continue to mark and celebrate these days?
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Here are some reasons why the answer to that question is yes.
- A day off work, especially if it is paid, gives us a rest and a break from the daily grind. It provides some punctuation in our ongoing stream of days and reminds us that our lives are more than just being stuck in a rut or caught up in a rat race.
- When we meet colleagues at work-related festive gatherings, we can see those we work with as real people, not just by their job titles. This can lead to better working relationships in the new year.
- We can sleep in on a weekday.
- We can enjoy family time which is great if we finally get to spend some quality time with our kids and others we like but not so great if we are obligated to visit with our more cantankerous relatives.
- We have time to play or just watch sports and games.
- We might even travel, planning a little visit to friends or family or just enjoying a change of scenery.
- It is a time for gifts, especially for children.
- It is a time to eat, drink and be merry.
- Holiday meals are usually feasts of special treats with both the quantity and the quality of foods better than the everyday. Holidays are also a time when we often enjoy a drink, hopefully not too many and not when we are going to be near a steering wheel. And, unlike most of the rest of the year, we can eat and drink guilt-free.
All this should make us merry, and usually, it does.
However, holidays are not a treat for everybody. A day off is meaningless if you have no job, as are family celebrations if you have no family. You may also lack friends and funds. At a time when it seems that the whole world is off indulging and enjoying, even the usual stores and services that provide for those in need are often not available.
Therefore, let us not forget one of the best holiday traditions which spans religions and cultures. That is to share with the needy. We can open our home to those who might be spending the holidays alone. We can donate generously to those kind and giving organizations that provide holiday meals and other supports to people that otherwise would not have them. We can even devote some of our own special holiday time to these causes. Such actions can go a long way to add to our own enjoyment of the holiday season.
I hope that the start of the new year finds you restored, refreshed and ready to go back to ordinary day-to-day routine, or at the very least, happy that you have made it through another holiday season.
May the holidays and the new year be everything that you want them to be.
Dr. Roslyn Kunin is president of the Vancouver Institute and has been chair of the Vancouver Stock Exchange, WorkSafe BC, and Haida Enterprise Corporation. She has also been on the boards of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and the National Statistics Council.
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