If nothing else, the social isolation of the past couple of years have reminded us about the importance of, and, yes… the sheer joy of being with others. Many families were broken apart during the pandemic, unable to see each other except perhaps through very unsatisfactory virtual connections. This is still the case for a substantial number of families and friends.
This winter holiday season, let’s put aside any differences of opinion, put aside the stress of commercialization, and simply be with each other in whatever way is possible, enjoying each other’s company, bringing light into this world.
Memories Formed During Holidays
Holidays spent with family and friends are precious in so many ways. Not only do they force everybody — even workaholics — into taking a break, the shared leisure time, especially if it is unified by a common celebration, strengthens our ties to family and friends. Holidays can also connect and integrate us into society at large, making us feel part of our community, making us feel secure that others are there for us, just as we are there for them.
Memories are built when families spend relaxed holidays together — some 55% of British people say their happiest memories come from holidays spent with family, according to a 2015 study. Luckily, happy memories stick around longer than bad ones and they can provide a ready source of well-being that can be dipped into for a dose of happiness any time things get tough.
With those types of statistics, it is clear that family holidays are critical in a life, starting right from day one. One third of adults in this same study say their childhood memories of holidays are still crystal clear and able to evoke happiness. Forty-seven percent particularly remember the excitement leading up to the holiday as well as the smiles, the laughter, the relaxation… in short, they remember the love and the sharing.
The Importance of Traditional Holidays
Traditional holidays such as Christmas have a way of turbo charging the significance of family holidays. Many families develop their own rituals related to the traditional holiday as well as societal customs: special activities which could be as formal as attending midnight mass or as simple as watching Dickenson’s Christmas Carol or Charlie Brown’s Christmas, or Dr. Suess’s Grinch on TV — or Caroling or decorating the tree, hanging a stocking over the fireplace, which is magically filled with small treats by morning by that very loved character, Santa! The list is long and unique to each family. And then there’s the special meal, usually the same meal year after year, served on the best china with slender white, green or deep red candles, their flickering, rosy flames lighting up the smiling faces to make the whole event simply magical for both adults and children.
These examples are mostly related to a Christian tradition. But there are a great number of ancient traditions from all around the world — often religious — that occur at this time of year in the Northern hemisphere, at the darkest time of the year, with the general theme of rebirth and awakening or welcoming back the light into the world. This is true in terms of seasonal and earth cycles, but it is also significant as a spiritual symbol or analogy of awakening consciousness and love at both an individual and community level.
Loneliness and Stress of the Holidays
This deeper meaning of the winter holidays is open to all, even those who — for whatever reason — are spending the holidays alone. Unfortunately however, being alone for the holidays might instead raise feelings of loneliness, especially if we imagine others having a wonderful time of togetherness with their families, and we would rather be doing that instead of sitting at home sharing a meal with our cat!
This even has a name in psychology: cognitive discrepancy, where the pain of isolation is magnified by a perceived gap in desire for togetherness versus the reality of being alone. However, There are ways to spend time with others over the holidays, even if you are far from family — community dinners and volunteering for example. You might also consider being alone for the holidays a precious gift in itself, a time of happy reflection and of being a light unto oneself in the true spirit of the season.
Holidays also can be stressful financially, especially if we buy into the commercialization of it all, believing we need to keep up some sort of standard of gift giving imposed by advertising. But the gift of being with one another, and showering others with love is truly the most fundamental gift anyone could offer. This is the real gift that brings smiles and builds memories. The rest is just packaging.
Wishing Happy Holidays to All
Here at Let’s Pasta, we would like to wish all our customers, and indeed everybody in the world, a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!