From Where I Sit – Look Up

Despite being bombarded with advice on how to save our sanity during the holidays, most of us still get caught up in the madness.

The mall shopping crowds seem well, ?crowdier,? and the list of needed gifts continues to grow. The November credit card statements confirm we are part of the growing debt load problem. And that was before the shopping machine got warmed up! The tree, if It’s up at all, sits cockeyed and doesn’t glow quite as brightly as other years. If we like to bake, we’re afraid to break out the sugar and butter because of high cholesterol, diabetes, and pants that are already too tight.

Maybe we’re embarrassed by our behaviour at the company Christmas party. Who knew that lampshade clashed with the purple sequined dress? Maybe we’re still bitter because the world is intent on changing our beloved ?Merry Christmas? greeting into the more inclusive and politically correct ?Happy Holidays.?

we’re embarrassed that for the 23rd consecutive Christmas, our house and yard looks like the Grinch lives here. A puny string of lights on an easy-to-reach shrub could dispel the talk once and for all, yet there is none. We haven’t actually mailed a Christmas–er, holiday–card since God invented email, but can’t resist buying more gorgeous half-priced cards on Boxing Day.

We don’t know what to buy for people who have everything, yet are loath to stop giving altogether. Some of us have opted out of the whole Christmas thing and will proclaim our reasons to anyone who’ll listen. Others take it as the latest excuse to go overboard with excess. Some of us try to walk the line of common sense, hanging onto meaningful traditions without killing ourselves with self-induced stress and out-of-control spending.

But all of this seems totally insignificant and meaningless when we watch the news. How can we bitch and moan about our teeny-tiny irritations when 26 families will be making funeral arrangements for their loved ones just before Christmas? The anguish and horror caused by the latest shooting rampage in the United States puts into stark perspective what is important in life.

If we let it, that is. It’s easy to say ?Thank God I don’t live in a country where guns are prized possessions and unstable people lurk.? It’s easy to believe that ?things like that don’t happen here.? It’s easy to dismiss the story altogether because we’re busy.

But that misses the point. Like Barack Obama urged, we need to hold close those we love. We also need to look up from our own little lives and notice those around us who are suffering and troubled. We need to have the courage to get involved and intervene.

This season all around us there are those with a new diagnosis, pain, and worries we can only imagine. Loving compassion will help all of us, from where I sit.

Best wishes for a blessed Christmas and incredible 2013!

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.