It’s a snowy morning here in Bon Accord today. The first snow happened on Sunday while I was away in Calgary at an Education Employees Conference, so I missed it. Can’t say that I’m heart-broken.
Despite having grown up in the land known in other parts of the world as The Great White North I have never had a love of winter. It is something to be endured as best as possible, always with the thought in mind that it won’t last forever. The Great White North name tag was I think originally intended only for the North West Territories where it is pretty much covered in snow year round, but somehow it came to define all of Canada — rather unfairly, I think. Winter is a large part of life in Canada — for us here in Alberta approximately half our year — but in other parts of the country it’s not as long, as cold or as depressing. Alberta and the prairies are the hardest hit, most other areas experience the joy of winter for only about 4 months. And the temps are usually not as severe as they can be here. But, regardless of where you live, winter pretty much sucks.
So, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest. . .
We’ve got a week left in October. Sigh. The time has gone by so quickly. Again. Before I know it it’s going to be Christmas! I am looking forward to seeing my grandkids in their costumes and going out trick or treating with them on Sunday night. Yes, the shameless solicitation for candy — such a questionable, but fun activity. I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween — I’m not into dressing up, not into kids getting stomach aches from overeating cheap candy, not into the temper tantrums that result from sugar overdoses, not into the senseless, petty rivalries that can develop over costumes, not into the sometimes mean-spirited pranks perpetrated on All Hallow’s Eve. But, it is a tradition in our culture and to not participate singles you out as somewhat of a loon — so I’ve always participated, half-heartedly, and tried to keep my loonieness hidden.
Halloween has become a huge industry in our country. In North America. Next to Christmas and Valentine’s Day, it’s the next big retail sales event of the year. Cards, costumes and candy. Billions of dollars in sales. There are industries devoted to Halloween decorations — the lights, decorations and music to go along with it. And many people get right into it. Much more than they get into Christmas. In fact, I know of several people who like Halloween much more than they do Christmas. It’s more fun they say.
I’m a Christmas girl myself. I like the soft sentiments of Christmas, the giving and the spirit of generosity it evokes. Christmas has its problems, I know. It’s the holiday besmirched with the highest rates of suicide and domestic violence, substance abuse and financial hardship, but. . .
. . .it’s also a holiday of hope. Hope that all those negative things can be purged from our lives and that we can be reborn, that our lives can be everything we ever imagined them to be. Halloween doesn’t offer that. It offers only a brief escape from reality and encourages us to be selfish and over-indulgent. Is that really all that terrible? Given our lifestyles that are for the most part daily exercises in self-indulgence and self-satisfaction. I suppose not. But that’s why I prefer Christmas.
Celebrating Christmas makes me focus on others more than myself, makes me take stock of how I’m living my life, makes me take stock of what is important in my life and forces me to make important decisions and make changes that encourage putting the needs of others a little higher up on my list than they might otherwise be. That all sounds very altruistic, and makes it sound like I’m a bit of a prude, and that is simply not the case. I can be every bit as self-centered as everyone else.
I am not Sister Theresa, or Gandhi, or even the woman who runs the Food Bank in our small community. I spend a lot of time complaining because I don’t have this or that, that I can’t afford to go on a tropical holiday every winter, that it’s going to be a while yet before I can replace the aged lino in my home with new hardwood flooring. I get a bit annoyed every Friday when I don’t win the ‘big one’ — because I’m convinced that if I could only win all my wishes would come true and all my problems would be solved.
So. although I began this with a lament that time is skimming by too quickly and that the snow has arrived meaning winter is truly here, I am going to end on a positive note. We’re well into what is considered the ‘holiday season’. It began with Thanksgiving and will end with New Year. Three months of over-indulgence in all aspects of our lives. But, it can be good this over-indulgence as long as we keep it in perspective and try to ensure that others — especially those we love — are the beneficiaries of our spirit of giving and fun. And that we don’t make ourselves crazy with trying keep up with the sometimes unrealistic expectations that all that over-indulgence can create.
Oops — guess that wasn’t as positive an ending as I’d planned.