Lowest Common Denominator: Holidays

So what are winter holidays for? Fighting with your family, exchanging gift cards with relatives you barely know, and getting drunk on eggnog? Why do holidays even exist?

Well, let’s see. Thousands of years ago, some people noticed that around this time of year it kept getting darker until one day when it started getting lighter again. After a while, they started observing the winter solstice as a sort of holiday. They celebrated with lights, feasts, and an all-around spirit of good cheer to show their appreciation for the sun. Or something like that.

Coincidentally(?), other holidays have come about that are also celebrated around the same time. The word “holiday” even comes from “holy day.” But these religious days are very different from the primitive worship of the sun. Now people celebrate with lights, feasts, and an all-around spirit of good cheer to show their appreciation for their respective deities.

However, holidays are for more than that. Do you remember how you spend last Winter Break? Where were you for New Year’s? Who did you spend it with? You probably have some good memories from then, and you’ll probably make some this year, too — memories of friends and family and a time of renewal and hope. Life is made of things you remember and things you don’t, and holidays exist as a chain of touchstones to show you where you’ve been, all the things you’ve accomplished, and all the things you’ve yet to achieve.

But with each year, the time you have left wanes, and the balance shifts from things that you’ll do to things you’ve already done. Before you know it, you’ll grow old; you’ll have many memories of holidays, and many friends and family members who exist only there — in memories. Then, later on, you will only exist in the memories of others.

You have ancestors who lived thousands of years ago, and who you will never know existed. But even when they were alive, they were already dead now, in the future. Every point in the past was already the past. Even now is the past, too. In the future, you are already the past, and in the distant future, you are already the distant past.

Everything has already happened. Just as a place exists where your ancestors are the present and you are the future, there exists a place where you have already gone through the course of your life, and there exists a place where you aren’t even remembered.

With that in mind, consider that, where you are right now, you still have more ahead of you, and more memories to make. It won’t last forever, and somewhere, it’s already gone. So continue to remember times that have gone by, and keep on celebrating the holidays with lights, feasts, and an all-around spirit of good cheer to show your appreciation for how lucky you are to exist in this small moment, with other humans you care about, right now. Anyway, have a nice break and happy holidays!