December 03, 2010
Happy Holidays: Experiencing the Virtues
It’s winter and our thoughts turn to the various holidays and the turn of the year. Almost everyone enjoys some ritual celebrating the mood of the season, whether it’s picking out a tree, lighting candles, or watching a ball drop. We treasure these rituals and family times; during the holiday season we often soften and get a bit nicer by being reminded of what we hold dear. This wintertime feeling is different enough from the other seasons that during them looking at a holiday photo or remembering a keepsake may find us fondly invoking that holiday season mood.
But it’s not the gifts or the food or the time off work that we ultimately embrace and crave; we treasure the virtues that underlie everyone’s rituals and celebrations. During the holiday season we’re given the opportunity to be open about expressing virtues without feeling vulnerable or out of sync with the world. Love, generosity, loyalty, courage, integrity, honesty, we get to shout about them from the rooftops and express them with flourish. “I value the people in my life. I value the Earth. I value my life. I have gratitude, and want to do for others.” We see those sentiments as the mood of the holiday season, to differing degrees, as we wade around the hardware store to find that perfect gift, go to that umpteenth work holiday party, walk around the Lake in the morning…as others unusually make eye contact and smile, notice a well-lit home and seeing guests and neighbors yucking it up on a late Wednesday night, or volunteer to care for others at a community kitchen.
This is a time to remember why you’re here and what you value, because the answers engulf all notions of personal identity and apply to all people everywhere. We’re here to embody the virtues; to be like the heroes we admired as kids—through the opportunities we are given. We’re here to remember that the only thing you leave behind is what you’ve done for others. We’re here to do what we can every day, in every way, to express the virtues which make us all a bit softer, all just a wee bit more human.
In my work, I’m often reminding people of the virtues which sit close to the surface this time of year, and it’s such a pleasure to watch them displayed with such abandon here and there. Look around, and enjoy. Be.