by Kenneth Justice
~Last week at coffee a single mom sat down at my table…..she was expressing to me her frustrations regarding the upcoming Christmas holiday, “Kenneth, I’m simply worn out. You’d think that since I only have one kid it wouldn’t be so tough, but I just feel so pressured from everyone around me to give my daughter an awesome Christmas….and I simply don’t have the money to do very much. We’re only two weeks away and I don’t even have a Christmas tree up yet!”
The woman’s boyfriend volunteered to purchase a couple ‘big ticket’ items and the young mother was debating as to whether or not she should let the boyfriend (who she has only been dating for six months) spend a ton of money on her daughter.
Its kind of weird when you think about it, we all know that Christmas is ‘supposed’ to be about a deeper meaning beyond ‘buying presents’….but its so easy to get swallowed up by the culture that surrounds us.
Yesterday I talked about social networks (like Facebook) and one reader said that Facebook is nothing more than a ‘tool’ and that we shouldn’t focus on the tool itself being bad but rather, how we use it. I totally agree; Social Networks are only bad news when we misuse them; and unfortunately some people are so adept at misusing them that they probably would be better off not using Facebook.
And in many ways Christmas is like this as well; Christmas is a ‘tool’ meant for us to use. Christmas isn’t meant to be something that drives us crazy…is it? I mean, whatever holiday we celebrate, whether we are Jewish, Muslim, Christian or fill-in-the-blank; holidays weren’t created to frustrate us and send us into a tizzy because we don’t have enough money to ‘celebrate it the right way’. Holidays were created to give us a ‘time out’ from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. But unfortunately, too often than not, holidays are merely another day on the calendar when we spend too much money, get a little too drunk, or get into too many fights with our relatives.
Since I’m a Christian I’m often reminded of the way the religious leaders of Jesus day were constantly trying to frustrate him; every which way he turned the religious leaders were trying to cram down his throat their overbearing ways……at one point they accused him of not celebrating the Sabbath (a type of holiday) the correct way….to which he responded, “Dude, you are a bunch of religious hypocrites who aren’t getting the meaning behind this kind of stuff; the Sabbath (and other holidays) were created for you guys to enjoy….you weren’t created for the Sabbath or to be a slave to holidays!” [The Kenneth Paraphrase].
I have to remind myself this quite often because there are too many times in my life where I feel like a slave to a particular thing;
—) I used to feel so guilty if I missed church on Sunday
—) I used to feel guilty if I didn’t call a friend or relative on their birthday
—) I used to feel guilty if I couldn’t totally meet the needs of a particular client
—) I used to feel guilty if I didn’t buy enough presents for my loved ones at Christmas
Too much of my life revolved around me feeling guilty that I wasn’t ‘doing enough’….but one day I woke up and realized; I simply can’t do it all. As Peter Parker’s Aunt told him, “You’re not a superhero ya know“….well actually, Peter Parker was a superhero,…but Kenneth Justice is not; I’m simply a mere mortal that can’t be all things to all people….I can only do the best that I can.
So as I sat with the young women I shared with her some of these thoughts….but I knew that merely telling her these things wasn’t going to make all the pressure go away…..”Kenneth, I already know all of this stuff” she said, “Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you know the truth, I mean, I know that I don’t have to buy a ton of presents for my daughter…..but there is still a big part of me that feels pressured to do so” she said
I totally understood what the young woman was getting at. When I was working at the rehab clinic; I didn’t have to tell my clients that they were addicts….the overwhelming majority of them already knew it to be so….but just because they knew they were addicted to heroin, alcohol, or whatever; it didn’t make their addiction go away.
Sometimes we can know something to be true…..but still have a difficult time breaking the cycle that we want to stop.
—-) Some of us have been really hurt by others via Facebook…..but its difficult to delete our account
—-) Some of us are in abusive relationships….but its difficult for us to break up with the significant other
—-) Some of us realize we don’t have to break-the-bank to buy Christmas presents….but we still feel pressured to do so
Sometimes, just because we know something to be true; it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with the situation. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to keep talking about the problem that is on our mind….and through constantly dialoguing with others it can help to reinforce positive behavior within us……
Sometimes, the best thing to do is to meet up with a friend for coffee and have a good conversation…..which reminds me….
Categories: Culture & Society