Open Bar column: Let’s work to share our holiday spirit throughout the year
I can smell the chestnuts roasting, evoking memories of my grandfather pretending to be Santa on the roof and of the wafting from stands on Istiklal Caddesi. No matter one’s tradition, the coziness, the friendliness, the camaraderie of the holiday season is almost tangible. With the madness that envelops us seemingly each day, this time of year provides perhaps the only sign that humanity could be redeemed. And yet, it is a shame that we compress the bulk of our goodwill into 20-odd days.
December sees an outpouring of charity, of patience, of the virtues lionized in carols and religious vignettes. When we gather in celebration at holiday jubilees of both the fancy and ugly sweater varieties, we take the time to check in with each other, to have the kinds of in-person dialogue that prove fleeting when subsumed by our quotidian demands. In reconnecting, we gain a deeper understanding of others that makes compassion that much easier.
Buoyed by the spirit of the season, we reach out to strangers in their time of need, provide them with aid, shelter, clothing, a few gifts for their children. Our mindsets shift outward; egos and personal gain are abdicated in favor of a concentration on the well-being of our fellow humans. Even when it indisposes us, we take care of others. Except for certain over-imbibing relations, we put aside our sociopolitical differences and focus on commonalities.
In sum, we are the best versions of ourselves, models for the only kind of utopia of which our flawed species is capable.
And then, as if the weight of benevolence is too much to bear, we cast off its cloak as the clock strikes midnight to usher in the new year. When the ball drops, we drop the ball. We make our unrealistic resolutions and turn back inward, focused on personal betterment, on the ways that we can improve ourselves. Ironically, in so doing, we work at cross-purposes, ignoring the empathy that achieved our ideal self-vision.
When faced with conflict, we do not take the moments to reflect and cool down that we can so easily find when we are under the spell of the holidays. We forget the insights gleaned from holiday party banter, chiefly that people and situations are nuanced, that we cannot make sweeping conclusions without taking the time to understand others’ perspectives. We descend from Jekyll to Hyde. I know who I wish to be.
I prefer to believe that our holiday selves are the true reflection of our core beings, that the altruism of December is not merely an act. Taking this optimistic outlook, I cannot reconcile how poorly we follow the admonitions of the season during the rest of the year. Whether our failings are the result of sloth or greed or other venal sin, it is simply inexcusable. We must do better.
So today, as you shrug off the lingering lethargy of the Thanksgiving feast, plot the only resolution necessary: to live up to the example that you craft for yourself in the next month, in sentiments and in action.
T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril LLC, and the owner/mediator at Voice Of Reason Dispute Resolution. He can be reached at 970-306-6456, or email@example.com.
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