Larry Banman: How to survive and thrive during the holiday season |

Larry Banman: How to survive and thrive during the holiday season

There are only two weekends left before Christmas. For those of you for whom Christmas is a commercial event, that may send chills down your spine. If you love last-minute shopping, it is just about time for you to search for those last-second deals. However, Christmas is about more than shopping. Pick yourself up, dust off yourself off and read on ” if you dare.

There have been times in the past where the crass commercialism of Christmas got under my skin and I allowed it to alter my mood. I am just old enough to remember that Christmas was not invented by Macy’s or Saks Fifth Avenue or Kohl’s or Home Depot. I can remember a time when Nativity scenes were a central part of Christmas decorations and not an item banished by the American Civil Liberties Union. It got to the point where if I heard another chorus of “Jingle Bell Rock,” I would have gone nuclear. What I found, however, is that what I really had accomplished was to cast of pall of pessimism over those closest to me, those who least deserved to find they were related to a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge.

Those who are of the “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” persuasion will find more people sympathetic to their passion pleas during this Christmas time. With the current economic uncertainty and rising unemployment rates, more people are looking through life with a different set of lenses. In an age of prosperity, it is the nature of our species to take credit for those accomplishments and then immerse ourselves in hobbies and activities for which we now have time and money. When those pillars of prosperity are pulled out from under us, we tend to look for other sources of security.

That is often found in religious pursuits. Karl Marx described religion as the “opiate of the people.” Spirituality is a lot of things. One of its functions, I believe, is to serve as a refuge for the wounded. There a lot of people feeling wounded right now. It turns out that 401 (k) was not the combination to open the lock to the gates of happiness.

When somebody talks about the “Big Guy” and you visualize a picture of Santa Claus, this can also be a good season for you. Stores of all sizes are offering sales that are intended to tease, tempt and entice. Merchants are highly motivated to get you into their stores. Prices have been slashed and bargains are to be found for those with patience and a discriminating eye. I have seen some incredible bargains on quality items. A small profit is better than no profit and this season, it appears, the consumer is the winner. In addition, I have been pleasantly surprised by the service I have received. People, it seems, have come to the realization that having a job is something to be treasured and they are doing what they can to make themselves valuable to their employers. In the retail business, that means service with a smile and the customer is almost always right. It has made for a more congenial holiday shopping experience.

Christmas is also the season of good cheer and good will toward all men. If you look around, you can practically eat and drink free for the entire month of December. There are enough open houses, complimentary treats and holiday parties to exhaust even the most practiced socialite. Hardship almost always brings people to a place of treasuring those things that money can’t buy, like friendships. People start focusing on what they do have instead of what they don’t have. I find that to be a refreshing. A board game requires no AA batteries and it encourages interaction. Try it, you might find out that you actually like your kids and they may find out that you are capable of saying something other than, “You’re grounded.”

If you are a football fan, you are about to enter a season of Nirvana. From Dec. 20 until Jan. 8, there are 34 college football bowl games. During that 20-day timeframe, the only days for which there isn’t a game scheduled are Dec. 22, Dec. 25, Jan. 4 and Jan. 7. On Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 alone, there is a feast of football watching that includes 10 games to be played in a span of about 34 hours. If your alma mater is not one of the schools which will be playing over the next month, you may need to check to make sure it is still in existence. A college football team had to win six games this past season to be “bowl-eligible.” When the dust cleared, there were 71 teams vying for the 68 available slots. That’s the kind of competition upon which socialism thrives. See, it is true, sports do reflect society. All the effort of trying to tell kids that there are no losers is starting to pay dividends. (Sorry, subtle dig that is completely out of character for this season of peace and harmony. I’m trying to change, but it is difficult.)

Make the most of your holiday season. I hope you find true joy and fulfillment.

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