Most of us love the holidays. We see them as a chance to relax and spend time with loved ones, setting aside the pressures and negativity that can threaten our health. And regardless of whether you like Christmas or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or New Year’s, or whether you abhor everything about the upcoming holidays, there is undoubtedly some holiday sometime during the year that you like.
Perhaps you only like Labor Day or Arbor Day or Festivus. Maybe you only care about the days you take off from work for mental health reasons. Regardless of how you define them, we all have holidays we enjoy.
We need them, in fact. They provide solace in a world that seems increasingly hostile. Whether the world is actually more hostile than it used to be is an open question, but it sure feels that way, probably because of our increased connectivity and social media platforms.
We cling to those who are similar to us, spreading around the real and fake news we get everywhere, particularly online, maintaining our opinions in the face of all evidence to the contrary (at least for a long time) until we finally come to accept the truth, grudgingly.
Many of us feel like we’re being bombarded by folks telling us lies or at least half-truths, certainly things we don’t want to hear. Undereducated and jobless whites feel like they’re under attack by foreigners who are willing to work for less; immigrants feel like they’re under attack by people who are afraid of change.
The LGBTQ community feels like it’s under attack by mainstream America, while Christians feel like they’re under attack for wanting to celebrate Christmas. Everybody feels surrounded by enemies. And our friends assure us that we are, because they feel like they’re under attack too.
The truth, of course, is that we ARE all under assault by a few loudmouths who are convinced we ought to live their way. There are Bible thumpers and gun nuts and liberal commies and aggressive feminists and people who advocate that women need to be protected from the world by men who know best.
Most people aren’t this way. But it’s those few with extreme positions, who spew their narrow-mindedness across the internet, where it gets picked up by like-minded trolls and dispersed to the universe at large, where it settles onto someone who rightfully takes offense at it. Those are the ones who make us feel vulnerable.
So we cling to our holidays, connected to our tribes, as a way of holding onto the comforts of our past –anchors that keep us grounded in the face of increasing onslaughts on our notions of what the world ought to be.
We gather with the people who make us feel better about ourselves. We gird our sense of self-worth before heading back into battle. The holidays serve as bandages to our egos and our mettle. Afterwards, we can once again join the fray, fight back against those who tell us we’re living our lives wrong, who insist they know best and we need to fall in line behind them.
Too bad every day can’t be a holiday.
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