Finding the Meaning in the Holidays

Historically speaking, the holidays haven’t been an ideal time for me. I’ve never really been able to muster up that Holiday Spirit, that special thing that people say they always feel around this time of year. The magic has always been sort of lost on me, and whether that’s because of my pedantic nature or because of my very strict upbringing and the disenchantment of having to spend time with relatives who treat me poorly, I’ve never been sure.

Whatever the reason, I’ve never felt very special at this time of year, and the magic that’s always depicted in Christmas specials seemed empty.

I felt forgotten, especially because I have one of those oh so inconvenient December Birthdays — You know the sort, the one where your very existence feels overshadowed by seasonal “good will and good cheer” that emphasizes just how terrible everyone is to one another the rest of the year.

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It looked like this where I grew up, and I have to admit, I kind of miss it. Snow makes Christmas more magical.

But recently I’ve started to realize something important — Partly because I’ve been away from home for about a year now, and that’s caused me to grow up, and partly because I have friends that are supportive of me here —

Magic isn’t something in inherent to a specific time of year; magic is something we have to make yourself.

It’s a lot like writing, actually.

The words don’t have meaning on their own. They’re significant to me and my readers because we ascribe them meaning — I breathe life into my characters through the way I portray them. My readers respond to that, and assign some significance to them because they connect to those characters and the situations because those things resonate with them and create that magic themselves.

The Holidays are the same.

They’re not important because they’re during a certain time of year or because of the traditions we practice during them, it’s because of the importance we ascribe to those things that makes them valuable.

sunset-in-winter

Like finding meaning in a beautiful painting or emotionally resonating with a song, the meaning of the Holidays, that special bit of magic comes from us. When we let ourselves be happy about the silly things, when we surrender ourselves to the comfort and solidarity that comes from the spirit of giving and thankfulness, that’s when we can feel that deep, abiding joy that everyone says we’re supposed to feel.

I had plenty of reasons to hate Christmas in the past, but distancing myself from those things, and letting myself share connections with others has allowed me to feel that quiet kind of magic for the first time in my life.

And maybe there is more to the season than my old, comfortable bitterness. Maybe even someone who has issues accepting change is capable of it after all.

So to everyone who might be reading this, Happy Holidays. No matter what you celebrate, may you find the magic of the season. Know that I am celebrating with you.

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