With Hanukkah in full swing and Christmas just days away, the holidays are officially here. But, all I’ve seen around me is negativity and anger. People rushing around, running red lights, yelling in stores and parking lots, waiting in long lines in stores looking miserable. All the while, completely forgetting to stop, take a breath, and enjoy the end of the year and the magic of this season. This should be a time of love and joy. A time to say thank you. A time to tell family and friends how much they are loved.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe this time of year is always like this, but I’ve never noticed it before, blinded by my own inner happiness. And, this year I’m still happy, but I’m different. Traveling to Asia this summer has completely changed me, and for the better, but it’s also made me critical of life in The United States.
This year, I’ve been to places where children don’t want iPhones and iPads, some of them don’t even know what they are. Places where homes are one room huts and the roads are made of dirt. Places where people who have nothing are willing to give strangers everything. Places where the majority of the population can’t afford cars. Places where refugees uphold painful cultural traditions to make a living as a tourist attraction. But, they are also places where life is simple and enjoyed each and everyday.
Traveling has opened my eyes to more than I could have ever imagined, but in doing so it’s also made me realize what is so wrong in my own country. Why are people so miserable during a time of year that should be filled with joy? And, what could people need so desperately for the holidays that they are willing to be miserable in order to get it? This is especially confusing when there are people out there living on so much less.
We often forget just how lucky we are for what we have, even if it isn’t what we dream for ourselves. This week The Girl Effect, a movement that focuses on girls around the world in order to erase poverty and injustice, posted the picture and statistics below. During this time of year, it brings out the realization that the problems we see as being mountains are barely even hills compared to those of other people around the world.
Which is why what I’m looking forward to most this holiday season is the opportunity to spend time with my family and friends. I’m looking forward to sitting near the tree and just being together no matter what we are doing. I’m looking forward to the memories that we will make the next few days, and looking back on the past year because we have no idea what the next one will hold.
I wish you all the same no matter where in the world you are and no matter what holiday you are celebrating. Enjoy each and every special moment, and remember to say thank you for all that you have.