There’s no denying it any longer: The 2013 holiday season is in full swing. Christmas carols are being piped through every retail store around while the snow starts to accumulate higher and the temperatures continue their annual winter plummet. Like most people, I feel a mix of excitement and mounting stress about time’s inevitable march toward 2014. The holidays are my favorite time of year (even though fall is my favorite season), but I have a lot to do in these scant few days until Christmas. (Cue a frenzied baking weekend.)
It’s very easy to get caught up in the commercialism and materialism of the modern American holiday season: Everywhere you look, you see advertisements trumpeting gift ideas, and they all seem to say that the happiness of you and your family depends heavily on the acquisition of whatever they’re selling. No matter how stalwart you are in your rejection of those ideals, the sheer volume of Christmas commercialism can eventually wear you down, which is why I think Hamilton Wright Mabie’s quote above is so important in the month of December.
Regardless of your religious beliefs or what year-end holiday you celebrate, we all recognize that this a time where we gather with our family and friends to give them tokens of our love and appreciation. We cozy up around a table and eat (too much) delicious food, talking and laughing and making memories with the most important people in our lives. As we shop for gifts, we toss loose change in the Salvation Army collection basket, and we buy presents for the less fortunate, so everyone can experience a bit of holiday joy. It’s the one time of year when America is positively overflowing with love.
It doesn’t always seem that way, particularly with news reports of injured Black Friday shoppers nationwide, but whenever I become stressed about how many cookies and loaves of my famous holiday bread I’ve yet to bake, or how many people are still on my shopping list, I try to remind myself that the foundation of all this holiday activity is love. I’m working my wallet and my oven (and occasionally my sanity) overtime because I want to let the people in my life know that I care about them—and if you ask me, there’s no holiday gift quite like homemade food, be it cookies, candy or what have you. Underneath the stress, I feel a deep abiding love for the holiday season—and I’d bet you do, too. Sometimes, we just have to remember why we’re celebrating in the first place.