Keeping The True Meaning Of The Holiday Season

Keeping the True Meaning of the Holiday Season

It's not about getting the present, it's about being present in the moment of celebration.

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The holiday season most would say is the greatest time of the year. Students are off from school, people are out and about making the most of their favorite stores' holiday sales and it seems as if everyone, in general, is in an uplifting and enthusiastic mood for the approaching time off and celebration.

Everything about the holiday season is enjoyable, but to make the most of it really includes staying true to its original meaning. It's evident that in contemporary society Christmas and other holiday celebrations have been largely influenced by Western consumer culture. The holiday season has certainly turned into a business, in which there is a greater emphasis on what one buys for the other and what one receives.

While the practice of gift giving is definitely not problematic, it shouldn't be seen as the quintessence of the holiday season. Just think about Black Friday. It occurs on the day right after Thanksgiving, a celebration that is meant to bring families together and be a time where people can enjoy themselves and their loved ones. People working in retail stores don't get to share in the full experience of the holiday since they have to go to their shift and prepare for the chaotic commotion that is Black Friday.

The videos that show people absolutely destroying everyone and everything in their path for a new flat screen TV are, albeit funny, the most accurate representation of a Christmas that has lost its meaning. Despite what one may celebrate, it is important to consider that the essence of the holiday season transcends any video game, lip kit or car one may get.

When you come to think of it, it is essentially the process of getting ready for the holidays and the celebration itself that constitute the spirit of the season. Helping a family member or friend with setting up the Christmas tree, for example, is living in the spirit of the holiday because it is the time, effort and the memory that is being shared at the moment that matters most. Spending time with family and friends by partaking in holiday festivities and enjoying each other's presence is what the holidays are all about.

It shouldn't be about just anticipating Christmas day and wondering what kind of gifts you'll get. It should be about getting to spend every single moment with people you care about and being grateful for it. Ultimately, that has been and is what Christmas is known to be universally.

It is a time of love, care, joy, and gratitude and although this can be shown by gift giving, it's not the gift itself that has value, it is the thought, meaning, and sentiment behind the gift that is valuable.

While all of this has been repeated and is something that we've heard before and know to be true, sometimes we lose sight of it and just see the holiday season as a way to do what we want and get what we want.

To truly make the most of the holiday season, put down your phone, temporarily avoid some of your responsibilities and don't focus on which gifts from your Christmas list you'll get. Instead, live presently, spend time with those you love and enjoy every moment of it.

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15 Fourth Of July Fun Facts And Trivia

The United States of America: Land of the free, home of the brave.
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Fourth of July is a holiday I look forward to every year! Full of outside, summer fun, barbecued foods, and firework displays. Behind all of that, however, is history! In celebration of our nation's Independence Day, here are 15 fun facts and pieces of trivia:

1. John Hancock was the only member of the Continental Congress to formally sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776.

2. The Fourth of July was not declared a federal holiday until 1938.

3. The first White House Fourth of July party was held in 1804.

4. Around 150 million hot dogs are consumed on Fourth of July (wonder if this statistic includes the hot dogs consumed during the annual Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest?)

5. Back in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed, 2.5 million new people lived in the U.S. Now 240 years later, 311 million people live.

6. The now American-celebrated song, Yankee Doodle, was originally written by officers of the British army to make fun of backwoods Americans.

7. Three United States presidents died on the Fourth of July: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe.

8. July 4th is also celebrated in the Philippines, because in 1946, the country was recognized as an independent nation.

9. In one year, $600 million is spent on fireworks alone in the U.S.

10. Most of the signers of the Declaration did not formally sign until August 2, 1776.

11. Though it is no treasure map as predicted by Nicholas Cage in "Treasure Hunt 2", the message "Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776" is written upside down on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

12. More than 14,000 firework displays are put on across the country on Fourth of July!

13. Bristol, Rhode Island is home to the world's oldest Independence Day celebration. It dates back to 1785!

14. In 1781, the great state of Massachusetts became the first one to declare Independence Day a holiday

15. Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Display is the largest in the United States

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia.org

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We Need To Recognize That Happiness Is The Journey, Not The Destination

Stop waiting to reach the peak, and recognize the climb.

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I went for a run today and had an epiphany. This epiphany may just apply to myself alone, but I honestly feel that many people will be able to see themselves in it as much as I do.

My epiphany is that there are two forms of happiness. There is feeling happy, and then there is the recognization of happiness, and no, those aren't the same thing.

We spend so much time searching for happiness. Many of us dedicate our lives to finding happiness, and we believe that to be the best, or even only, way to live. Yet, somehow, we still feel like there's something missing in our lives. That's because we spend too much time looking for things to make us happy, and not enough time recognizing when we are experiencing happiness in the process.

See the thing is that feeling happy is an emotion. You are happy when you are surprised with concert tickets to your favorite band, when your parents tell you they're getting a dog, when you see that you got an A on an exam you were stressing about, and so on. These are fleeting moments of emotion. They don't last for long and don't contribute to your status of living a happy life.

Feeling happy is not a state of being. When someone asks you, “Are you happy?" you think of what you have in your life that is happy. Whether it be the college you attend, the friends you have, the dog you love, or the hobbies you really enjoy. When someone asks you that question, you respond with whether or not you believe yourself to be living a happy life. You don't respond with what current state of being you are in.

Then there is happiness. Happiness once again is not a state of being. Happiness, as I've recently realized, is a process. Happiness is taking a road trip with your friends when you stop at sketchy gas stations to pee and get snacks and then you all fight over who has aux. Happiness is seeing your mom after a month and telling her all about the frat dude who you met last weekend and the professor who you can't stand. Happiness is actually going on that run that you told yourself you would go on, even if it sucks.

Our problem in our search for happiness is that we expect it to show us a big flashy sign saying “Here it is!" when in reality a small sign has been there multiple times and you just haven't noticed.

In order to completely experience your processes of happiness, you need to acknowledge them.

If someone asked me right now, “Are you happy?" I would say yes, and not because I am happy at this moment, but because I am proud of myself for going on that run 10 minutes ago.

There was a point on my run when I thought to myself, “Wow, I said I was going to go for a run and I actually did. I'm running right now. This is happiness." Those are the exact words I thought: “This is happiness." And now is the moment where you, the reader, think to yourself: “Hold up, she was running and— happy???" No. I did not want to be on that run, I was out of shape from a weekend visiting friends and I was exhausted from a long bus ride home.

See I wasn't experiencing the emotion of happy, but I was able to acknowledge that what I was doing was a process of happiness. Acknowledging in the moment that I was experiencing that process was mindset-changing for me.

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