Today, I am moved to talk about celebration! For many who question and search for overall well-being, celebration is not always recognized as a viable mental health intervention. Celebration of our well-being, our family, (both born to and chosen by) and our communities manifests in many ways over fall and winter holidays. I think perhaps, one reason could be the end of summer harvest, or the long winter shutting people in, together. I acknowledge this may not be entirely true for everyone around the world. And holidays especially are tricky, as we all wish they were always happy, idealistic (Yes, Virginia!) but sometimes exasperate those little things that make us question our overall well-being. At the heart of the holidays, is celebration. I consider celebration a viable therapeutic intervention!
Ahh, holidays. It’s the last half of the year, beginning for me on Labor Day, followed by Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Solstice, Christmas and Kwanza and then Happy New Year. Those are the ones I am familiar with; I am sure there are many more traditions out there. Holidays are a particular challenge to me not to get caught up in the inherent sadness. I think it was always the stories around holidays that distracted from thinking too much about the world as is, vs. the world as I would have it. Stories! Holidays are about birth, harvest, death, scary things, and happy things, return of light and new chances. Great heroic stories, so deeply ingrained and believed in the world, people compare their stories with fervor and sometimes angst. That’s not really what this entry is about.
The thing I notice about all the holidays I know of the best is the community building that inherently seems to happen on holidays, and I like community building. , Labor Day (and here I am going to use my Wikipedia, so grain of salt as you read!)” … a celebration of the American labor movement, and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers.” Makes me think of unions, (I’m sorry- politics really are everywhere.) Love unions or leave them, there is an impact in our society when a group of like-minded people, a community, striving for change, celebrating their work have a day to celebrate. Halloween- my personal favorite. What a wonderful day, when everyone takes off the mask they wear all year long, and indulge for a moment in an inner face. Even if you don’t “dress up” or to my way of thinking, “undress the soul,” almost everyone knows what they “would be for Halloween this year.” How do we always know that? I will tell you, I am usually a witch of some kind, although one year I was an alien, that everyone thought was a futuristic witch costume. Thanksgiving; a reflection on harvest, family, manifest destiny, divine intervention- arguably the best and worst of being human. Which brings me to the Holidays, with a capital H. I was talking to a colleague, and she said, “I don’t know what you celebrate, but Happy Holidays!” And I replied without thinking about it, “I celebrate everything.” Which is to say, I grew up with Christmas, but I love to celebrate in general, and the holidays from Hanukah to Kwanza have some commonalities I can get on board with. This is what I see: celebrate family and each other and how lucky we are to be together. Celebrate community, people being nice to each other, and the things we like to do together. Celebrate by giving gifts. Celebrate by reflection and dress, with song and feasting. Celebrate. Celebrate with volunteering; celebrate your life as it is. Celebrate if you are sad that your life isn’t quite what you thought. If life was perfect, the celebration might not be as great anyway. Practice Celebration, even if you don’t really think you have a reason. You are the reason. You are part of this community.
What about the New Year Kathryn? A whole ‘nother story and celebration for another day!