To all of my readers who have wondered where my next post has been, the answer remains that during the hectic time of the year known as the “holiday season”, I have been quite busy. Which of course got me thinking, how do the holidays and time spent with family and friends influence or relationships with one another? There are so many themes that occur in various cultural practices around this time of year, and especially in Judea-Christian households, there can be an emphasis not only on religious practices for Christmas or Chanukah but also in spending time with friends and family, which as we have been discussing is an ideal setup for competitive relationships.
Of course, some holiday competition is rather explicitly shown. A simple youtube search, and competition within a community is lit up for display and reflection. If only our inter-relational disputes were so neatly choreographed and melodic. However, I do believe that we can take some inspiration from this type of display of healthy competitive and cooperative interactions. Most people who have light shows rarely are the only ones in their community who do so. Often, their are rival houses who compete for the top spot every year, and as the notion of light shows as competitive enterprises have expanded and the internet as availed them to us, more houses compete with others around the country, driving them to excel in effort, showmanship, and expense. While these may not be the values best attributed to the holidays, it does exemplify how we can achieve greatness through spurring one another on to better heights.
As the holidays come around every year, I wonder how we can use competitive instincts to capture the meanings behind most religions. While each disagrees as to specifics of the nature of God and how it influences mortal human beings, most agree on basic morality: be kind to oneself and one another. Try to do the more righteous thing at every opportunity, and likely good things will eventually come your way. Perhaps, this missing idea which drives many individuals away from organized religion is a lack of fully embracing competition. Can you be more moral than your neighbor? Can you identify more aspects of your life and your self to work on, and feel that you can make realistic progress on in this year. Can you beat last year’s progress? Quantifiable goals might help all of us to let what holidays have always marked in wide variety of cultures – times to mark the passage of time in our lives, and notice who and what we have around us. A time to reflect and become present with one another, and not let the busy-ness of our lives dominate our human business – that is our humanity. Happy holidays everyone 🙂