Amblin' Alameda: 'Tis The Season

Amblin' Alameda: 'Tis The Season

Morton Chalfy

It is that time of year again, and this year we have the cold snap chilling our noses and toes to prove it. This is the time of year when all of us seem to have too much to do and too little time to do it in which makes for stressful days and late nights. Gifts to get for those doing the giving, lines at the post office to wait on, lines at the checkout counters of all the stores and the deepening lines furrowing the brows of the worriers.

It is also the season of guilt, when the needs of the unfortunate are used to urge us to let loose our better natures and share our bounty. Even the least saintly of us cannot help the twinges of guilt at the sight of shivering people and sad-eyed children and puppies.

The stress factor is real. Our regular lives are either put on hold or squeezed into tighter spaces to make room for holiday shopping, holiday home decorating, holiday giving and receiving and holiday parties. As each day ticks off the calendar drivers are a little pushier and more distracted, appointments take longer and there is less time in the day to just take five and relax.

"Enjoy the Spirit of the Holidays," enjoin the ads which simultaneously try to convince us that the spirit is best contained in savings of 30, 40 even 50 percent off!! at their particular emporium. Well, retailers have families too and should not be unduly chided for trying to make the most of the biggest selling season of the year.

To reduce stress, I try hard to keep the memory of why we do it all in the forefront of my mind. We celebrate with friends and family around this season – celebrations around this time of year, the winter solstice, have been with us for tens of thousands of years – and it's a celebration of hope for the oncoming spring, gratitude for the year past and the people in our lives and love of family. I strive to keep that thought with me at all times so I do not become short with the people I meet and the ones I'm ostensibly doing my part for. I try to remember that love motivated my purchases of gifts and friendship led me to holiday parties and the people I share my life with are enhancements to it and not impediments.

It is easy for stress to distort our vision of what it is we're doing and why we're doing it. Stress can replace love with resentment, friendship with irritation and generosity with stinginess. Bah, humbug is the cry of stress, happy holidays the call of friendship.

'Tis the season to take a deep breath, remember the positive reasons you're running all over town and remember that the gifts of love and attention to the others sharing your life is more valuable to you and to them than gifts of goods.

I wish you all a happy holiday, lowered stress and a bath in the pool of loving kindness.