Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Holiday Season Has Arrived (Wait! Let Me Explain!)

Well folks the kids are back in school, another Hotter'N Hell is out of the way and we are heading towards Labor Day.  That must mean . . . it's my favorite time of the year; the Holiday Season!  Now before you say 'What in the world are you talking about?'  Let me explain...

September, October, November and December, to me, are the best four months of the year.  So many wonderful and some solemn holidays are celebrated and so many wonderful events happen during this time.

It all begins with September.  On the Meteorological calendar Fall begins on September 1st and what a welcome it gets.  I can finally start looking forward to cooler and shorter days and colder and longer nights.  Although the cooler air is often delayed in the Texoma region it's still nice to know that it won't be long.  

And, if you travel to northern New Mexico or southern Colorado you will begin to see some of the autumn colors pop on the mountain sides.

The second reason I like September so much is honestly, well . . . I like to go to the stores . . . and look through the Halloween and Christmas stuff!  OK, there I said it.  I'm a Christmas and Halloween addict and looking at the decorations is fun and get's me in the spirit for both.  I highly recommend the big three:  Walmart, Target & Hobby Lobby (but I'm sure you knew that already).  Their decorations for sale starts just after Labor Day (except Hobby Lobby, but I digress) and that's also when I start contemplating what I'll get for each person on my list for Christmas shopping.

A Christmas gift has to be great and of course special, but then again, gift cards are nice - see I already wandered off topic to think of gift giving this year.

Next comes October, it's the spooooky fun month, LOL.  

It's the time temperatures really do begin to fall.  In some years Texoma gets it's first freeze around Halloween.  The leaves are starting to change in Texoma.  Although we don't get a lot of color we get more of the true "fall."  Leaves turn brown and fall off the trees beginning at the end of October and many of the plants in the area go dormant and it really does change the landscape for the upcoming Winter Season.

Then, it's the scary holiday.  I know it's not something everyone wants to get wrapped up in or believes is appropriate but I have no scruples about, Halloween!

I decorate my place with an abundance of orange.  That's no surprise since my favorite color is orange.  I put up orange lights everywhere along with pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, scary bats and spiders and so much more. And, I have a love of being frightened (not grossed out, but truly frightened from suspense, scary movies and mysteries).

I watch a few (some are too gory for me) Halloween movies on the small screen.  And, 2018 is a special year as it's the 40th anniversary of the original movie: Halloween in theaters.  To commemorate the anniversary they made one more Halloween movie with Jamie Lee Curtis.  She and Micheal Meyers are going to battle out 'til the very end.  Who will win?  My money is on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee)!  The movie arrives in theaters on Friday, October 19, 2018.

Oh and of course I can't leave out all the candy, Halloween parties and Halloween Haunted Houses.  My favorite haunted houses are the ones put on for charity such as those done by high school students or organizations to raise money for the coming holiday season.

There is just something fun about getting scared.  I just always have to check my fear meter when I go into those places.  If I reach the point that I'm so convinced of the horrors that my mind won't get rid of them or make me scared in my own house, then I'm out.  I'll take the scaredy cat door and take a break, LOL.

November arrives and the month quickly turns our attention to a brighter feeling and warmth in our hearts of Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Now, I say both because if you are like me and are a theme park fan.  If you go to Silver Dollar City or any of the Disney Parks for vacation in November the first Saturday of the month is the beginning of the Christmas Celebration.

Some folks get offended that some organizations skip Thanksgiving but not me.  Why get upset, just celebrate both.  There is definitely enough joy in my heart and warmth in my soul to go around and celebrate the glory of giving thanks throughout November and if I'm in those places that have moved on to Christmas well I certainly can't turn off my joy for that either.  I think in that case the holidays we can live in peace together, with no worries, at least for me and in my small home.

But mid-November turns much more solemn and never more so than this year.  

Each year we celebrate Veterans Day which is such an important thing to do.  Honoring veterans is something that I feel is close to many of our hearts, but this year . . . it will be different.

This year on Sunday, November 11, 2018 at 11:00a it will mark the exact moment that the first World War, or what was then known as the Great War was officially over; 100 years ago to the exact moment.  Of course we honor the Veterans in this nation.  But I feel it is our solemn duty that at that exact moment 11a on 11-11-2018 we should all have or attend a special extended moment of silence and ceremony to honor and love all the dead that fought for right and goodness in that horrible conflict around the world.  That is how it was done exactly one century ago on that day, we should do it again.  And, it's a practice that has been forgotten.  But, please wear a poppy on that day.  It is a special global symbol of those that are gone from WWI.

OK, moving on, the holidays keep arriving!

It's time for Thanksgiving!  And, of my goodness I know this holiday is at the top of the list for so many people.  It's a truly wonderful American holiday to gather together and celebrate all things American and all things good in the world today.  We must always be thankful for the blessings we have and this is the day to do it.  We must also take a moment of time, especially before we eat our wonderful bounty of a dinner to express our love for each other and our individual faiths.

I'm not sure why we do five unique and very different things on this day.  It would be interesting if someone did a paper on how these five things got connected on Thanksgiving Day, but I digress.

Here they are:  
1-We, as a nation and a world even, sit down and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  
2-We often watch the National Dog Show broadcast for two hours coast to coast.  
3-We gorge on giant turkey bodies filling our own with meat, stuffing, potatoes, green-bean casserole and of course pumpkin pie!  
4-We watch American Football, no explanation needed there, although I'm not sure why it's 'more special' on this day (not a big football person here).  And, finally . . .
5-We hurry-up and wait in line to get a holiday bargain during what is now Black Friday on Thanksgiving Thursday.  Hhmm, you must admit that that is a very strange combination of traditions all put together.  That sounds like a 'deep thought.'  Ignore that last statement if you were not around in the 90s, you won't 'get it.'

As Santa Claus arrives in Herald Square in New York City, New York the Christmas Season is officially underway everywhere!  Such a great moment for small children to see the big guy in the sleigh at the end of the parade.

Some folks even have the tradition of putting up their Christmas Tree on Thanksgiving or possibly waiting until the day after.  Other's wait longer.  For me personally the tree goes up ASAP!  And, so do the wreaths, hand-made garland and an amazing amount of Christmas lights.  from Thanksgiving until after the New Year I don't need a light bulb anywhere in my home, just live by the glow of the Christmas lights.  My home is a bit like the Griswald's but instead of being on the outside it's all on the inside.  Ask my friends, it's quite a thing to see.  Christmas mas is my second favorite holiday.  My favorite is coming up so keep reading.

Now, we get to a sensitive issue with the holidays (and frankly I don't get why this is such a big deal or even a problem to some, but I respect that it is for some people, I just wish we would respect each other and enjoy the spirit of the season, it's virtually the same for all).

I understand and know that many folks are offended if I say "Merry Christmas."  But, conversely I've discovered in the last two years that there is an even larger group that is thoroughly repulsed and then goes out of their way either to my face or behind my back to accuse me of not being a Christian believer if I DON'T say "Merry Christmas." - UGH!  It's a no win.  And, unfortunately some folks believe that no other holiday should be celebrated at the same time as Christmas.  (It's at this moment, I think to myself, oh where do I start.  But, never shying away from a challenge I'll march on through this mine field).

First of all, I have NO problem with folks celebrating other holidays in addition to or instead of Christmas, it depends on their upbringing when they were young, their religion when they were young, their current religion and their heritage.  But in the end they all celebrate peace, love, caring and blessings for each of us and each other.

It's probably, for me, easier than some because I spent some of my college years in a border town/university.  I lived in Vermont and we had time off for all the holidays in both nations of the United States and Canada including Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve and Day.

So let's break this down.

First there is 'Christmas', celebrated on December 24th and 25th, either as 'Eve or Day.  I like celebrating both!  Just being together, conversing, seeing old friends and family, exchanging gifts and just feeling the love.  (And, yes I'm aware that by the dinner on Christmas Day afternoon folks can get gripey and 'discussions' break out.  Been there and done that, yikes!)  But overall it's a wonderful two-day period of love, giving and rebirth of values and beliefs, celebrating a new born child of love.

Then, there is 'Hanukkah'.  The Jewish faith is something I respect extremely, it is longer lasting that most when it comes to this special time of the year.  And, when you attend one of the nights of Hanukkah with friends or family, when respectively invited, it is a truly remarkable and moving experience of hospitality and love.

Next up, the lesser celebrated yet growing 'Winter Solstice', this was big where I went to school.  All I knew was the date of the event, this year it's Friday, December 21, 2018.  What I quickly learned is that it's a very personal time for those with the belief that we must cherish and love the earth and all of nature.  A time when the darkness of the sky and the cold air is at it's astronomical peak.  It's very interesting and I still have close friends that celebrate this holiday and Christmas as well.  I respect it and learned a lot about caring for and more importantly loving nature.

Then I have a holiday that all Americans should be ready to adopt in a heartbeat from Canada and the United Kingdom and portions of Europe and the Commonwealth.  Did you know that in those nations the day after Christmas is known as 'Boxing Day.'  Boxing Day gets it's name (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) from back in the 1830s when certain professions received 'boxes' or gifts from folks they worked for and serviced.  In a sense it was a special 'labor day' for certain jobs as the people the workers serviced gave them boxes of money, gifts or food out of love and respect for what they do for them all year.

Today, in many countries as mentioned before it is a public holiday with no work.  That means they get off part of Christmas Eve Day, all of Christmas Day and all of Boxing Day.  Sounds like a great idea to me!  And, if it fell near a weekend, you would get five days off! WOW!

It's also called St. Stephen's Day and Second Christmas Day or second day of Christmastide.

So as far as I'm concerned I think we should write our congressman and senators as well as the President and try to get this as our public holiday and receive a nice long Christmas break!  Hopefully, we can all agree we deserve that and so do all of the folks that serve others with hospitality throughout the year.

After Christmas comes the week of Kwanzaa.  Still not celebrated by a large mass of folks or understood by some, it is a very special time.  It helps folks remember their heritage and past, just as Jewish families remember their heritage and past and Christian families remember their heritage and past.  The Kwanzaa themes for the seven days are:
1.  Unity  (Umoja)
2.  Self-Determination  (Kujichagulia)
3.  Collective Work & Responsibility  (Ujima)
4.  Cooperative Economics  (Ujamaa)
5.  Purpose  (Nia)
6.  Creativity  (Kuumba)
7.  Faith  (Imani)

It seems to me that when celebrating Kwanzaa one must relate these treasured principles to their lives and heritage.  And, even though it is focused on the African-American culture I believe all of cultures have these principles in common as a human race.  And, sharing, learning about and respecting these principles will help the human race love and understand each other more.

I respect the African-American community for celebrating these wonderful and loving principles together and I invite all peoples to reflect on themselves these beautiful and purposeful principles.  I think they speak to all of us.

Did you notice anything when I was going through each of those holidays to celebrate.  Each one had the word love in it and underlined.  All of these holidays are based on the human existence of love, just in different ways.  And, if they are all based on love, how can we not see the importance of all of them and respect all of each others culture and beliefs.  We don't have to practice something that is not right for us but there is NO reason to bash or put down any of the other holidays when they are based on the human bond of love.

Finally we arrive at my favorite holiday.  It has always been my favorite.  If you watched me on television, at any station I worked for you would notice that I never worked New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.  It was the ONLY demand I ever made on my employers.  I always said and will continue to say that I will work Thanksgiving and Christmas but I want New Year's off.

You might ask yourself, why Bryan is that you favorite holiday, it's just a moment in time, what's the big deal?

Well, my grandmother came from Scotland as a young girl and brought with her all of the Scottish traditions.  Some of the most prominent in my mind were the traditions of New Year's.  And, over time the celebration of the night and day grew in importance to me.

Can I completely express what it means to me?  It's very hard.  But I'll try.

There is some bit of tangible and emotional magic when that number changes.  In my mind when the clock strikes midnight (has to be in your time zone) it's like I've finished a race with the goal of making and living to the end of that race/year.  It feels like a triumph, a success.  And, as the second hand moves on the number is new and God forbid it is necessary but at that moment it will be etched in stone, some day, that I made it to that time in history.  A new race through a whole year has begun.  It's a very emotional moment for me.  It's always hard to hold back the emotion and tears at the stroke of midnight because I feel all of the emotions and traditions my grandma taught me intensely at that moment.  To me it's magical, the changing of time.

Now, don't get me wrong there are many other traditions that were taught to me about New Years from family and friends including always getting up early, no matter where I'm at to mark the very first midnight on the Earth for New Year's.  For Texoma the first midnight strikes at 4a on New Year's Even Day as Millennium Island of the island nation of Kiribati rings in the New Year.  In addition besides the moment that the New Year begins where I'm at I always celebrate another midnight and that is midnight in London.  Why you ask?  Because the global clock is set to time in London which is on the Prime Meridian.  So someday when we have contact 'out there' the global time will be shared according to London time.  We use it in weather as well.  So 6p CST is when it's midnight in London, the exact moment that the calendar year officially changes.

Of course there is so much more that is special about that two-day period.  Although we really don't watch football we do play board games, converse, eat way too much, have champagne at midnight and because of modern technology we can watch each and every midnight live on TV around the world with fireworks and unique traditions shown, it's a fascinating and moving 26 hours (Yes, it actually takes not 24 but 26 hours for the New Year to sweep the globe.  Explaining that is for another blog.

New Year's Day, after a brief sleep brings sleepy eyes, stares at the Christmas tree, the confetti on the floor and the beautiful floats on the TV LIVE from Pasadena, CA during the International Tournament of Roses Parade.

And, the New Year begins and the holidays are officially over.  It feels like a rebirth, new beginning but also the ending of a wonderful time.  Yes, it's hectic, expensive and can cause disagreements but none of that has to happen.  Just keep that love in your heart.  Did you notice that I mentioned love is celebrated in each of the 'holidays' around Christmas.  And, I feel it's love that binds them and us together.

So as we go into this holiday season maybe, just maybe you'll see some things a little differently, or through someone else's eyes.  I mean it when I say that if you do that it will keep love and happiness in your heart throughout the entire time and you will feel uplifted throughout the holidays of December and into the New Year 2019 and beyond.

I hope you enjoyed today's blog.  I really enjoyed writing it.  I believe it was my longest yet.  So congratulations for reading the entire thing.  Please feel free to comment at the bottom of the blog or click on the buttons asking you one word comments on what you think.  Thank you so much friends.

Bryan W. Rupp