Monthly Archives: December 2011

Christmas Traditions

Have you already entered the Holiday-rush? Busy buying Christmas-gifts? Have you written to Santa Claus yet? Decorated your house with all the Christmas decorations you could get your hands on? Feeling any anxiety for the family coming together? Or maybe not gathering this year?

Christmas is a somewhat different holiday for different people. First of all, not everyone celebrates Christmas since it is a religious holiday. So that’s one reason for why you might not be reflecting about Christmas at all. Secondly, you might not like the idea of family gathering, because of all the family issues you might have. (I guess we all have “special” family traditions… If you know what I mean)
Also, this part of the world is not very religious, so the fact that it’s really about a special child being born for many, many years ago… has not much to do with Christmas nowadays.

It took me several years to really enjoy the Christmas Holiday to be perfectly honest with you. When being a child it was all about the gifts under the (over)decorated Christmas-tree that we always had. Each year it had a different theme, different colours that were well picked out to create that “special” Christmas-feeling to suit the Holiday for the year. In every single corner of the house there were decorations, all the I-have-no-idea-how-many- windows were decorated with light chains, bells, ornaments, you-name-it-we-got-it christmas-thingy so that you could not miss that it was Christmas! (It was that much, that it hurt your eyes looking at it…)

As a suggestion, this is where I got fed up with Christmas. It was just too much!
I felt stressed about the idea of decorating everything, the entire house, and all the time suppose to feel overwhelmed and excited about Christmas. But once the gifts were opened… it all disappeared. It vanished and went away. What was Christmas more about other than the gifts for a little child? Was I suppose to be over the moon happy to be with my family that I lived with under the same roof, that I saw every single day? Christmas or no-Christmas… same people, just a different day… (Get my point?)

As I moved out and began to live on my own, I still wasn’t really enjoying the Holiday, as it came back every December to remind us how to be grateful, thankful and what-not.
Until something happened. Not quite sure what, but it made me re-think the whole idea of Christmas. And as Christmas was coming closer, all the shops decorated their shop-windows and stores, and they started to play the same Christmas-carols, lyrics you know by heart really well, I mean well enough that you can tell which song is the next one being played…
And it usually begins around final week in October, and ends in the beginning of March (Just enough to make you fed up with Christmas, Winter, Snow, and all the Wham! with their “Last Christmas” you can possibly take) and it goes like that for about half the year (see my point of being fed up with Christmas? I was not born the female-Grinch, it was all of this that created me into becoming one).

No, what happened was that I realized what I wanted Christmas to be really about. Which is just as you might have heard before; gathering with friends and family, take a minute to enjoy the company and have a laugh. Share good and bad moments, but reminding that in the coldest of times of the year (in this part of the world at least) the love you share to one another, makes it easier to endure the cold and the darkness.

Still, every single year they announce that the swedes have been shopping even more than they did last year when it comes to the Christmas-gifts. Financial crises or no financial crises, the final bill for how much the swedes are shopping Christmas-gifts for are reaching higher and higher altitudes.
So… ehm… what was Christmas all about again? Are we unable to show love, gratitude, thankfulness or joy in any other way than by buying gifts to one another? Is that what is going on here? The hysteria for Christmas-gifts is just absurd!

I am not saying that it’s the right way, nor the wrong way… But is it really about the Christmas-gifts? Since November you can get tips on how to cope with the Christmas-rush, and stress, how to make it with your last-minute shopping, recommendations about what to get your husband/wife/child/sister/boyfriend… Ends up you being exhausted and stressed out in order to enter the calm, peaceful and what-is-suppose-to-be harmonized Christmas Holiday… (Paradox anyone?)

In my family we have a tradition that is one of the very few traditions that I really want to keep (Although I stated to be old-fashioned in earlier posts, I am not all that much for traditions, for several reasons really, but there’s no need for me to state them here).

Anyway, the tradition is about the Christmas dinner. We have set out an extra place by the table that no one sits at. The symbol of this tradition is that it’s a place for all the ones that have no table to sit by at Christmas. (Guessing that it has to do with if there was someone homeless passing by, you should invite him or her to sit by your table with your family, to have dinner together). As I was younger I asked my mother why she set out a spare place if she knew that no one else was coming. She explain the tradition and meaning of the spare plate on the table. Although I was just a child, I think that this is when I realized that Christmas is about much more than the Christmas-gifts, and this particular tradition has become a really dear and special one to me.

Thinking about all the people who don’t have a family to celebrate Christmas with, or food to put on their table for dinner on Christmas makes me really sad, and the least I can do is to set an additional place on my table for them. This is what I remember was my first thought as my mother explained the tradition behind the space by the table that no one sat by.

Now once again, Christmas is coming closer and I am overwhelmed by all the busy shoppers in the city and malls here, running around like crazy people, buying Christmas-gifts as if there was no tomorrow (!) at the same time surrounded with carols, decorations and Christmas-stress (Yes, people, the stress you get around this time of the year has its own term in my part of the world!)

As for me, I know what my Christmas is about.
(However, there is still not a sign in my house that there’s Christmas in less than two weeks. No decoration, light chain nor a christmas-tree. Guess I am permanently damaged in that way…)

But, for whatever it’s worth… Please don’t stress on and about Christmas.
Is it really what the Holiday is supposed to be about anyway?

What is Christmas to you?

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Filed under Every day life

All Ye Unfaithful

I find it quite amusing how often cultures surprises me, especially when it’s my own that makes me shake my head and wonder; “But, why?” or “Wow, that is just crazy!”

I hear about it when attending parties, I see it when I am out at the club, I talk about it over coffee with friends, I read about it on billboards, I see it on commercials, I get spam-mail about it to my inbox… finally, I decided to explore the whole thing a bit closer, so here it goes;

Earlier as I was walking down the street into town, I passed by a big billboard saying as follows;
Spice up your relationship. Have an affair

Seeing this, I needed to stop. And so I did. I figuratively speaking stopped and I stared. Reading the statement my first reaction was to laugh about it, since it makes absolutely no sence at all to me. (I thought it was a joke) And then it made me sad. Because I simply don’t believe that having an affair solves any problem you have in your current relationship.
(Is being faithful that old-school that it’s simply not trendy anymore? Did I miss something in school? That being faithful is not “in-fashion” any longer?)
But not only is it a message that is sent to the world, it’s a business!
For you see, the commercial was to promote this new online-site where you create a profile for yourself and look for someone to – yes, exactly – have an affair with. Just like that! As if it was shopping online for a new dress, now you can find yourself a mistress or fancier, while being in bed with your partner at the same time (Thank you smartphones and laptops for making it so easy to be online everywhere and all the time?)

What does this mean? Are we suppose to be, or better yet, expected to be unfaithful in order to have a happy relationship? Is that what a healthy relationship looks like in the 21st century? The one where you share your partner with someone else? Is that really the best (!) way to save a marriage or a partnership of the romantic kind? Do we really need to share our beloved someone in order to keep him or her in our life?

Now, sadly (in my opinion) this is common in my part of the world. Way too often I hear, see and read about people being unfaithful to their partners. Sorry to say, having an affair is becoming the “new black”. And when billboards and TV-commercials are sending out the very same message, I can hardly imagine the consequences that this is going to have for the young people being brought up in an environment and society that says that it’s perfectly okay, or not just okay, it’s necessary to have an affair in order to “save your relationship”. (Is being faithful to your partner not modern enough? Is that the problem? Does new times require new relationship-structures? Or is it just way to difficult to keep holding on to one person at the same time? Why is it that we need to (according to the messages being sent to the society) have an affair to be able to hold on to a relationship? In my opinion, that is a typical paradox. Makes no sence at all, and is just (excuse me) screwed up!)

Unfortunately, fact remains that this is what is going on. People are cheating on each other, having affairs, and (surprise, surprise) nowadays they don’t even have to go behind the backs of their partner anymore, because it seems as if it’s becoming the standard relationship-design – to have an affair. Just like that. (If I’m not buying all of this, does that make me old-school-out-of-fashion-and-just-not up-to-date-in-the-modern-world? Hmpf…)

Now, not only am I talking about people who are dating, but the “trend” has spilled over to marriage as well. Yes people, Newsflash! Married couples are also cheating on each other. First time I heard about this phenomenon I was amazed. How in the world does that work really? How can you accept to share your partner with someone in order to actually save your relationship? Was there no one listening to the vows when getting married? Was not one of the promises to be faithful to one another? (What is it that I am missing here?) Because, this time you are actually aware of your partner having an affair on the side. So, I’m wondering if it is some kind of new type of couples therapy? Is being faithful to one person just not trendy any more? Is it not desirable? Is it bad for your relationship to be faithful? When did all of this change? Is it simply not as fun as sharing your partner? I still can not come to the point where I accept that it’s the right way (or any way) to save your relationship – to have an affair.

Just a week ago I got to hear about this arrangement in yet another marriage, where the couple is totally open about their affairs with other people. And as I was trying very hard to keep my chin up, I simply asked; “why?”
The answer I got was that with time you and your partner lose that romantic sparkle, so instead of going behind each others backs, with affairs, you are open about having flings on the side. That way, you are being honest about it to your partner and there is no need to break up, since you are getting the excitement that you are missing with your partner (does it really have to be like that?) from someone else, when having an affair.

Well, so… ehm… okay? Instead of having an affair behind your partners back, you are open about it, saying that it is “necessary” for you (the two of you?) to have affairs on the side in order to stay together as a couple? (Sorry for repeating myself, but I still can’t find it in my heart or mind to believe that it actually works).

Guess I have not been keeping up with the modernization of the society, and all it’s effects on relationships and way of living, what is acceptable and what is the norm nowadays. Times are changing, people!
Until I figure out a way to justify affairs, I am holding on to being old-fashioned. I simply don’t approve of the idea of sharing my man with anyone. Call it possessive. Call it boring. I call it real love.

But then again, it might just be a cultural thing. Because it’s not like this in all cultures, is it?

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Filed under Every day life, Love

Selflessness

Are you a giving person? Have you ever done anything towards another person without expecting anything in return from him or her?

If you are a giving person, is it wrong if you choose who you want to be giving and nice to? And if you choose not to be at your very best to exactly everyone, does that make you a mean person instead?

I was thinking the other day, that there are not really that many giving, generous and loving people in the world, that are being their very best-self in every single situation, to everyone they meet, for no particular reason really. And so, unfortunately, it happens (way too often) that their generosity is being used, as in, someone taking advantage of it.

So, my question is, if a person that is giving and is aware of it, since that is somewhat a choice you make (here you could go on about how that is a feature in one’s personality not to be chosen by the person that has it, but then again… are we not able to change some of our behaviour, if we are aware of it? But that is not what I aim to talk about this time.)

Anyway, if you feel as if someone is taking advantage of your generosity, that you are caring, loving, giving etc. towards someone who really does not appreciate that about you, and not only is (s)he not appreciating, but actually using that to his or hers self-advantage… why not simply cut the chase and spell the beans! (Would that make the generous person less generous?) and instead stop showing that feature of yours towards that person? If (s)he doesn’t appreciate it, why should you give your kindness to someone who doesn’t appreciate it?

I found that the people in this world that are caring and generous, without expecting anything in return, are really extraordinary and unusual, not to mention very rare. Then again, I have been told every now and then, that there is no such thing as doing something without expecting anything in return. Even something as little as a “thank you!”, or the feeling you get when doing something good, helping someone else that is in need. (Is there a thing in the world that can be done, without expecting anything, I mean ANYTHING! in return?) A favor in return, a thank you, a smile… or the feel-good and pride in doing something “right”, helping someone else… (Isn’t that a reward come to think about it?)

The feeling you get when you do something good, is somewhat a reward you get, right? So, in fact, there is no such thing as doing something without expecting anything in return, because you are really expecting that rush you get when doing something good for someone else. Are you not?

I haven’t quite decided where I stand in the question;
Is it possible to do anything for someone else without expecting anything in return?

Because, what you might be waiting for, in return, might not even come from the person you are doing something for. But instead you might believe in Karma and that it will come back to you, in a good way of course, but from someone else, and not the person you helped out in the first place…

Then again, Buddha said;

Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared

Does that mean that you should not look at it as if you are being used, or your generosity is something that someone is taking advantage of…
When not giving you anything in return, or worst case scenario, being rude or mean to you back instead?
And if you, for some reason, actually expect the person you are being nice towards, to be nice to you back… does that make you a selfish person?

Still not convinced, I find myself to actually expect something in return when giving my best-self to another person. Maybe not from the very first second, but when you start giving your heart, and trying your very best to please someone else, I don’t know how about you, but I find that I am indeed expecting something in return. And when all I get is someone being rude to me in return, I will stop being my very best towards that person. Simply. It might not be according to what Buddha said, but maybe I’m not the prime example on how to live life according to Buddhas belief either.

But despite all of this, I believe that we should all be nice and kind to one another. Because, what I want to say, is not to stop being kind, generous, loving and giving towards each other, but in fact I want the opposite. I want us to cherish and help each other out.

And never ever take anything for granted.
Because, not only will you miss it once it’s gone, but you might indeed hurt someone else as well.

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Filed under Encouragment, Friendship