“It’s not a big deal for me, it’s just another day.” I have a few friends who respond with a similar phrase whenever I ask how they plan to spend a special day. It could be their birthday, Valentine’s Day, Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Each time I hear or read such a response, I wonder what they’re really thinking.
I try to put myself in their mindset. Like most folks, I’ve been through several times in life when I’ve felt lonesome, neglected and forgotten. Especially hurtful are those times when a loved one dies or I’ve gotten dumped by a lover. The vacant, longing emotions are universal, human feelings. We don’t score any brownie points by denying that we suffer them.
Goodness knows that I’ve tried to submerge them with some sort of control substance, like booze or other deadening agent. My favorite escape from life’s Sturm und Drang was immersion in work. I’d take it upon myself to voluntarily fill in on holidays. My perfect excuse was that as a single man, I could afford to work a shift or double-shift. My coworkers, mostly had spouses and children. They were needed at home to complete the family holiday experiences. Not only that, I had the perverse pleasure of playing out some sort of martyr character.
Even if I missed out on a labor day picnic because I had a shift to fill, taking a day before or afterwards just never felt fulfilling. What’s with laborers working Labor Day and management taking the day off? I never understood that.
Many a holiday was spent doing an air shift. I’d maybe get a phone call from family or a quick visit from someone bringing me a snack. The holiday was just another, regular day. I told myself that many times. But I never honestly believed it.
Maybe 10 years or more ago, I decided to stop playing the martyr. I acknowledged that I was less than pleased to always work a regular or extended shift on the major holidays. To be honest, something was lacking. Even if I had plans to spend the holiday alone at home, there was an empty pit in my gut about being away from a best friend or my family if a last minute request for me to work came up. I am very thankful that I enjoyed my job and was happy with the work environment and the people with whom I worked.
Our culture devalues the deeply personal and overvalues the outward achievement. I think we pay dearly for this on a national scale and on a personal level. I think that even if you are employed in your ultimate, fantastic dream job, that you need to step back. Importantly, those holidays that are officially set aside for time off should be enjoyed away from the workplace. I’m convinced ones psyche is better off by doing so.
The holidays around winter solstice are especially healthful. This is especially true for people whose ancestry harkens to northern latitudes of the earth. I maintain that the very ancient celebrations to aleviate the longer nights of winter are encoded in our makeup. Aside from the commercial hype of the holidays, getting together with family and close friends at this time of year tends to enable, within us happy, healthy emotions.
New Year’s Eve is often dismissed as an excuse to become inebriated. If controlled substances are consumed in a modest, temperate manner, or not at all during a New Year’s Eve party, the festive atmosphere still rubs off on people.
At its most practical, New Year’s Eve is a time of closure. We often feel grateful that we’ve survived the rigors of yet another year. This is when millions of us people look ahead and plan how we hope the next year will unfold. New Year’s resolutions are popular because I think folks honestly do want to improve their lives. It’s rewarding to look back on the previous year to honor any resolutions that gained traction and were actually accomplished.
Traditionally, the end of the year is when we wrap up any loose ends in business and personal affairs. Doing so not only gives us a healthy sense of accomplishment, but also encourages a positive, rewarding momentum that will carry through into the following weeks and months.
Even if you don’t agree with the cultural and biological reasoning for celebrating New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, you’ve got to admit that the change of pace lightens your mood and provides some much needed space for variety.
The Blue Jay of Happiness wishes you a safe and happy New Year’s Eve.