How can we make the most of this holiday season? ⋆

Given the feelings of unease that often punctuate our daily lives in many areas, the holiday season provides an opportunity for us not only to celebrate, but to discover lasting meaning that could carry us to new heights of understanding and rejuvenation.

Lasting meaning can be found in many ways, but three ways in particular:  Reflection, Renewal and Resolve.

These three “Rs” begin within each of us and then spread abroad.

Some of us have been engaged for weeks and months planning meals, making lists of family members, friends, and colleagues to invite to gatherings. Shopping for gifts, no doubt, got an even earlier start.

But shopping, feasting, partying, and all the merriment need not be all consuming.

Most assuredly, we welcome the break and escape from the rancorous political environment that invades our mental space and sense of peace on any given day.

Whether local, state, or national politics, that is not all there is as hard as it might seem to be.

Admittedly, totally escaping some of the tough political circumstances we face as a country — a very divided public, increasing mass gun violence, entrenched political polarization — will be difficult.

Or ignoring that we are a member of the global community will be a near impossibility  as we continue to witness the brutal and inhumane war between Ukraine and Russia, between Israel and Hamas, and as we face the growing threat and spread of terrorism.

One can find much expert advice on how to take care of our physical selves and manage our schedules amid all the holiday demands.

Yet, there is no better time than during the holiday season to use some of our downtime to reflect, renew and resolve to address some of those things that can help us better navigate uncertain or turbulent times ahead.

Recognizing and putting into practice the benefits the three Rs can provide will require that we recognize and embrace a few things that will help us address and strengthen our common humanity.

Many of those things are neither new nor require some great insight.

The first R: Reflection. We only need to pause, look around and pay closer attention to people and conditions right around us.

For some, the holiday season is the beginning of the most joyous time of the year, with all the decorations and holiday signs — one happy event after the other.

But, for others, it is the beginning of a stressful time, even depressive time, for any number of reasons.

While many of us may be fortunate to be in a position to enjoy each holiday, with all its trappings with family and friends, there are those who see little to celebrate and have even less with which to celebrate. For them, the holiday season is only the beginning of a dreaded time — a season filled with reminders of families that were, wish lists that remain unfilled, and dreams that always seem beyond one’s reach.

This is where there is an opportunity to apply the second R: Renewal.

We can begin on the smaller and personal level where, too often, much of this “state of want” or “painful emptiness” has nothing to do with money or other material things. But instead, it has all to do with how one views the purpose for his or her life.

Consequently, our sense of self-worth and the value we bring to those around us and the community in which we are a part get lost and we suffer immeasurably — in ways that are not always obvious.

We too often let our well-being be determined by unimportant and fleeting things. This is where self-reflection can be the beginning of real renewal.

If we take time to reflect on our world both near and afar, we all see the signs of the toll lifestyles and misplaced emphasis have taken on the human spirit.

We need to commit to the discussion and renewal of personal and social values that count, that have lasting meaning when physical and material circumstances inevitably change.

If we bothered to reflect on the state of the human condition in our supposedly advanced society during the past decade or two, we would have even more to be concerned about and focus on renewal efforts —  areas where we seem to be losing the progress we have made.

To stop the regression will mean renewing our efforts to continue working in many important areas that count, among them are race relations, parenting, building healthy family units, eradicating hunger here in the United States and abroad, eliminating homelessness and reducing drug and substance abuse. No doubt, you can create a list of your own.

This is where the third R comes in: Resolve.

While we — as a nation, as a city, as a community, as a member of a family unit, as a concerned citizen — undoubtedly have a lot to be thankful for and lot to celebrate this holiday season, we need to keep in mind how far we have yet to go in a number of areas to advance the overall well-being of humankind.

If we put more reflection, renewal and resolve into doing those things that support our common humanity, it could be the strong foundation for us to join together and tackle other challenges that threaten our quality of life, even our very existence.

Whether it is in our home, our neighborhood, our schools, or some other corner of our immediate or global community, all the scientific, technological and medical advances will not fix a down-trodden human spirit.

Major change often begins with one person, in one community, in one city.

Implementing those three Rs can prepare and equip us to deal with an uncertain future and find a better path forward.

Missouri Independent is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Missouri Independent maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jason Hancock for questions: [email protected]. Follow Missouri Independent on Facebook and Twitter.

authored by Janice Ellis
First published at

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