Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Stress and Peace

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Peace is the only battle worth waging.

 ~Albert Camus~

 The holiday season ahead of us, including Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are meant to be times of peace and joy. Yet this is also a time of high stress for many people. It is also high season for depression and suicidal thoughts if not suicide itself. How did we get from a time of peace to a time of great stress?

In the first place, most people say “Happy Holidays” to each other without much thought to what the holidays mean. In an attempt not to offend anyone, we make our greetings so generic that they have lost most of their meaning. I think it is easy to lose sight of what we are celebrating.

We seem to be celebrating money. The focus is on sales, discounts and how much money you have available for the season. The success of the holiday season is measured in the bottom line for retailers. Personally, success is measured in whether we can find and afford the right gifts for everyone of importance.

So where does the stress come from. Many people spend more during this season than they can reasonably afford. In the back of their minds, they know a day of reckoning is coming with their next charge card bill.

This is also a time of year when we get together with others we do not often see. If you have lost someone important in your life, the idea of joy may seem distant as you remember the person you have lost whether through death, one of you having moved too far away to get together or through a conflict which has destroyed your relationship.

You might also not be on the best of terms with some of your relatives or people who used to be good friends, but whom you spend time with this season so as not to ruffle any feathers. They don’t bring you any joy either.

How can you get back to peace and joy in your life? First be grateful for what you have including whatever money you have, a good place to live and the people around you who bring you joy. Just because stores focus on sales does not mean you must too. If you can’t afford expensive gifts, think of what you can do for those you love to make them a little happier. Maybe just spending some special time with them would bring you both joy.

If you have strained relationships with some of the people you will see in the next few weeks, think about what you might have done to create part of the strain. Apologize for your part in the conflict. If you don’t know, a nice gift would be to tell him or her that you are troubled by the distance between you. Ask him or her to help you make a new start.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Rather than generic greetings, find out what holiday other people are celebrating.
  • Learn a little about their customs and what they mean.
  • Give the gift of yourself rather than things.
  • Thank those you can who bring joy to your life.
  • Apologize for offenses you might have committed and forgive others for theirs.
  • Use this season as a time to restore your troubled relationships.



Publication Frenzy


Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.

Calliope: Good afternoon Joe. What’s happening in your little world?

Joe: Quite a bit. I am working on marketing my new book, Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life. I decided to republish my other books in paperback through Create Space. I have finished working on Navigating Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Journey which is now available again at Amazon. I plan to add my other three books, but for now am back to work on Commonsense Wisdom for Teens, which I put aside a while ago. Here is a little taste:

After writing my first book, Commonsense Wisdom for Everyday Life, I realized that what I had to say was directed toward adults. I wondered what teens would make of it, and came to the conclusion that most of their concerns were different from those of adults.

I also wondered whether I really knew what their concerns were. I decided that the best way to find out for sure was to ask teens what concerned them and how they dealt with their concerns. I went in search of teens who were willing to talk with me about their concerns.

I found a number of teens who were willing to fill out a questionnaire and meet with me to talk about what they had written. This book is an account of that process. The teens who participated were all from Western New York, some from rural Genesee County and the others from urban Monroe County.

Since I asked them to share such personal information, I asked them all to choose a fictional name to use in this book. They are Punkman, Nikki, Amy, Ellie, Paige, Kapow, Miss Mimi, Chuck, Abe, Ronnie, Anna, Amy, Lynn, Sean, Julie, Darla, Allie, Chuck, Zoe and Kylie Thanks so much for your honesty and courage in sharing part of your lives.

As you read on, you will find stories about teens, based on those I have met over the years I have been in practice, comments of teens I interviewed and my reflections on their comments. You will also find practical suggestions for things you can try to help you with life. (Excerpt from my forthcoming book, Commonsense Wisdom for Teens)

Calliope: You have been busy. Make sure you come up for air from time to time and keep me posted.

Joe: Will do.