Thursday, December 2, 2010

Find and spread some seasonal joy

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — The hard part is done. From now on, it’s all tree trimming and candy canes, carols and gingerbread, reverence and pageantry, love and wonder. Blessings and joy.
I love the holidays and more than half a century amidst Scrooges, Grinches and seasonal depressives (some of them, alas, bah-humbugging in my own circle of loved ones) have not been able to beat it out of me.
I’ve learned to get most of my gift list filled by July and my presents wrapped and shipped off before Thanksgiving, thus avoiding my least favorite thing — shopping in frantic herds of stressed-out holiday hunter-gatherers.
I cut myself out of that bipolar (or is it North Polar?) herd and opted out of the madding throngs decades before it became a blood sport, with obsessive, acquisitive Olympic shopping kicking off on Black Friday. And no matter what the spin doctors say, I don’t believe for a moment that the “black” refers to the fact that merchants move their annual financial tallies out of the red and into the black profit margins that day.
I’ve worked retail during the holidays and I KNOW where the black references come from, and have weathered the black and blue bruises and moods that really inspired dour and punishing Friday’s moniker.
But all that’s behind me, now, and I hope it is for you, too, or will be soon.
Maybe this can be the year when you can streamline your gift list a little. I find many of my older relatives, especially those who live far away, are happy and relieved at suggestions to exchange e-mails and phone calls instead of hefty packages. I give priority to kids, people who’ve moved to new areas or who are having tough years or are prone to holiday blues.
More and more, I’m finding that close friends and relatives are happy to substitute visits or lunches or dinners for other gifts. Or we agree to make a bigger deal of gift-giving during birthdays, when we all seem to have more time for up-close-and-personal celebrations.
With some of the pressure off, we can find more time to enjoy the season, especially important, I’ve found, during years like this when work or economic issues prevent many of us from managing to gather with distant loved ones.
I make it a point to put as much light in my life as possible, stopping to witness every luminaria display I can. And every year, I try to catch at least one local pageant, concert or holiday event, particularly something I haven’t experienced before, pretty easy with an escalating amount of intriguing options in our territory.
This year, after seeing some inspiring YouTube videos, I’m working to field some guerrilla caroling groups. Jerry Ann Alt, director of NMSU Choirs, seems ready to rally for some random acts of Christmas culture. So don’t be too surprised if you find yourself in the middle of a “Hallelujah!” chorus when you least expect it. Actually, we hope you will be surprised. And delighted. And inspired to join in.
Start your own impromptu caroling group at home, at the office, in your neighborhood park or in line at the supermarket or post office. Recruit a friend or two and before you know it, you could be part of a caroling conga line.
Invite someone who will be alone over the holidays to join you and your friends and family for a brunch, lunch or dinner. Give to those less fortunate. If your budget is tight, give yourself. Volunteer to help. It’s a pretty reliable cure for the blues — theirs AND yours.
If you’re alone, make it a priority to get out and sign up for a holiday craft class or go to a seasonal fiesta, movie or concert. You could make a friend who’s looking for someone to enjoy a stroll or a drive to see the holiday lights and displays.
Whatever your beliefs or your resources, we can all use some joy this time of year.
Go to a church or synagogue or take a long walk on a sunny December day and ponder spiritual meanings of life, love, hope and new beginnings.
May the season bring you a bumper crop of joy and the wherewithal to spread it around.
Happy holidays.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450

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