Busted Halo
feature: entertainment & lifestyle
December 1st, 2003

Survivor Challenge

The Holidays

 
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Forget Survivor Thailand. One of the most challenging, daunting threats to modern mankind’s survival (and our sanity) is The Holidays . Now that they’re over, it’s time to assess the damage, see where our resources have been depleted, and concentrate on recovering enough so we can face another year of living in the jungle.

Not supposed to be like this…
I’m not sure where things changed. I think it was somewhere between the time I got my driver’s license and when I became a parent. Somehow, the holidays, specifically Christmas , went from being a time I greatly anticipated to a time where I now have to psyche myself up, train, and strategize just to make it through in one piece. I’m not sure why it is so difficult, but the pressure can be immense. It starts in September, when the department stores blast the holiday music. Nothing ruins my mood more than hearing Christmas carols early. It really blows it for me, but of course, commerce must be served. After all, it’s good for the economy, right?

Let it go, let it go, let it go.
I survived the holidays by just letting them float over me like a bucket full of fake snow. I told myself that I didn’t have to get caught up in it all. And I didn’t. I didn’t allow myself to feel pressured by gift giving and receiving. I simply gave and received without a lot of extra wondering and wanting. I neither embraced nor let myself grow cynical towards the holiday advertising, the plastic decorations, the Christmas cards without a personal message, and all the rest. The whole Christmas “deal” was just sorta there. And I let it be there without it bothering me, ruining my mood, or manipulating my attitude. Being relieved of the pressure was kind of nice, actually. And it allowed me to focus on more meaningful things.

The true meaning? I don’t know.
It also helped that I took time to recognize true Christmas moments. Like when a co-worker told me she would be alone on Christmas under the blankets watching a video. Or the gal at Home Depot, who told me her family wasn’t celebrating the holidays this year, since they had an uncle who recently died and it didn’t feel right to celebrate anything. I recognized these moments, but I tried not to invest them with earth-shattering meaning. I saved myself the energy of figuring out how they fit into the big cosmic picture of Christmas. I simply allowed myself to be touched by them, and I sent them a friendly thought when they entered my mind, just as I’m doing now.

Once again, a baby offers salvation
And then, there was the moment of clarity, the “a-ha” moment, the illuminated moment, when I saw exactly what Christmas was all about. It happened when I held a baby. Amazingly, when I stared into this infant’s eyes, he stared right back at me because I was a wonder to behold, a marvel. Everything is that way for a baby, because everything is new. As I held this child, I also knew instinctively that it was a lesson on how I was supposed to be. I was to simply be. No pressure, no baggage, no agenda. Just be. If you have a baby at your disposal, I highly recommend this experience.

And that’s how I survived the holidays.

 
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The Author : Chris Cabrera
Chris Cabrera has a wife and two offspring and writes from Los Angeles.
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