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Happy New Year - Do We Still Need Christmas?

                                     Maura in NYC Christmas Balls.jpg

For many who didn’t think we’d make it past 2012’s projected End of the World prognostication – and for those who did – a Happy New Year to all!

Upon returning from an early morning walk, I found myself reflecting on the Christmas and New Year holidays today. As one year cycles out and 2013 is now upon us, I had a thought: Do We Really Need Christmas?
The question may seem odd, until you realize why I ask. Just one week ago, my husband, daughter and I took a family walk on Christmas Day. The path along Florida’s Tampa Bay is a common one, frequented by dog walkers, bikers, skaters and more. Our particular hamlet is populated with all kinds of people – those of American birth and Christian orientation as well as a plethora of immigrants and vacationers carrying equally diverse religious and social leanings.

Surprisingly, on Christmas Day, nearly every passerby offered a smile and the accompanying, traditional greeting, “Merry Christmas!” Further, no one appeared to hide their well-wishes with a less traditional, more politically correct replacement like “Happy Holidays”. What added to the phenomena was that the three of us, generally happy to greet others along our path, were deeply engaged in private conversation so, oddly, we found ourselves on the receiving rather than initiating side of the public greeting parade.   

Since this path is familiar and we walk it frequently, it was easy to spot this apparent departure from the norm: our area is generally neighborly in feel, but there was a definite and noticeable uptick in good wishes on Christmas Day. The same faces who would ordinarily pass strangers without acknowledgement felt somehow compelled – or, perhaps, inspired – to share their sudden goodwill sentiments with others.

I’ve frequently noted how the calendar runs ‘round and ‘round without any apparent conclusion in mind. The concept of redundancy became first apparent when I was growing up in the Catholic Church, a religion unified by a cyclical calendar of repeating scriptures and the holy days that punctuated its year.

So I wondered today about the phenomena known as "Merry Christmas". Why would people choose to wish one another merriment and goodwill on just a single day of the year? What about the other 364 days that happened upon us all?

As I took my morning walk today, I thought to take inventory of the same path with many of the same people that walked, biked or skated upon it just one week ago. Now that it was New Year’s Day, would wishes be as plentiful, smiles as universal, as they were last week?

Only a few strangers noticed or reflected back upon my smiling gaze. Just one woman on a bike told me to “Have a nice day” and a second woman made a point of articulating, “Happy New Year”.  Beyond that, most everyone else returned to the confines of their world, relatively oblivious to others who shared the path with them.

I suppose the answer to my question Do We Really Need Christmas, has been answered by today’s walk. Only one week after the fact and most have already forgotten their goodwill wishes.  

Although I don’t rely on the calendar and happily greet others – strangers or not – along my path throughout the year, I see that Christmas on the annual calendar carries merit.

Yes, we really do need Christmas. People do need calendars, dates and other externally designated holidays – served up in cyclical fashion -  to serve as reminders to let their hearts wish others goodwill and cheer.

Christmas reminds each of us, including those who forget, to wish goodwill to all. It’s the single gift that can be so easily extended. It also comes without a price. It needs to be bestowed upon others . . . . if only but one day a year.

For those who forget their own treasure, let’s keep Christmas on the calendar. Let’s give thanks for the wisdom of affixing it and hope that, with or without a calendar to remind us, we can find good wishes for our fellow man.

And while it’s still New Years Day, a “Happy New Year” to all – as in all 365 days of 2013!

Maura is an International Speaker on Self Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

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