In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to say, I really, really hate winter -- and pretty much everything that comes with it. The cold, the darkness, the heavy clothes, the grayness and especially the holidays. Not really the holidays themselves, but what people have turned them into. Needless to say, my desire to create a commercial-free, stress-free holiday season, focused on rebirth and renewal, translates to those around me as a Scrooge-like demeanor.
So one day, into my holiday-free zone, completely unsuspecting, walks my buddy, Ted. Ted is a great guy -- he's a buddy from my bagpipe band days who enjoys playing his bagpipes, coffee -- lots of it, his wife and son and their menagerie, camping, gadgets. Ted is not a guy who is typically burdened by the world-weary musings that plague me. One of Ted's biggest passions is turning his house and yard into an extravaganza of synchronized lights and music for the holidays.
Poor Ted; there came the day when he, in all innocence, began to tell me all about his newest additions to his Trans-Burlington hoopla, ending with, "Don't you just love the holidays?" I, of course, proceeded to tell him everything I thought was wrong with them. At the end of my monologue, with an understandably dumbfounded expression on his face, Ted quietly said, "Oh, I hadn't really thought of all that. I guess you're right. But all I want to do is make people smile."
I realized in that moment that I had been missing something important. Perhaps if I peeled away all the commercials, the long lines for gifts that will soon be forgotten, frayed tempers and everything that drives me crazy about the holidays, I would see, that at the core of everything, everyone is trying to give birth to a smile.
I can't say that this new perspective has completely changed my feelings about the holidays, but it has made me grateful for Ted and what he taught me. Ted will send me a link to his holiday creation this year, as he does every year, and it will make me smile. And it will remind me that every year, at Festival of Lights, I am graced with the opportunity to participate in making someone forget whatever their particular troubles are, even if for just a quick moment -- and smile. Maybe this year, it will be you. Pass it on.......