It’s almost Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Seeing the lights and decorations for the holiday season and people taking photos with Christmas trees, one wonders: Why not have festivals every day?
Wouldn’t it be good to make every day festive, even with work during the day time? Perhaps we can then be joyous and in a good mood all the time?
Theoretically it sounds wonderful to treat every day like a festival.
Unfortunately, too much of a good thing can be tiresome and diminish the magic of it all. Similar to eating too much rich food to the point where one longs for something more humble and simple. What’s more, people would likely become jaded, and what is often regarded as a special time of the year would lose its meaning.
Without something more ordinary or mundane to compare to, the special or festive cannot exist. A New Year day would be a normal day.
Just how the day is appreciated after the darkness of the night is gone, or how people enjoy nocturnal silence after the buzz of daytime life, the beauty of life is found in its alternating rhythm.
We appreciate joy and happiness because there exists sorrow and unhappiness.
So having Christmas or New Year every day would render them meaningless. The magic would be gone. It is magical because it is limited in time, just like something exclusive can only remain exclusive because it is scarce, and not accessible to everyone or all the time.
Nevertheless, instead of merely seeking joy in the festive season, it’s worthwhile to seek joy in the ordinary and the mundane as well: To be appreciative that we are alive and can try to make ourselves useful – not just to our loved ones, friends and family but – to strangers and those in need.
Our ephemeral lifespan is meaningful and precious precisely because it is finite and temporary. We all will sooner or later be gone. Death makes life meaningful for we are inclined to ask what we would like to do while we are still alive and able, given the limited time we have.
We can learn to let go of anger and pain because we know everyone will die one day.
Life is too short to dwell on negative feelings and thoughts. Life is too short to succumb to base feelings. Life is too short to be selfish and petty. Life is too short to waste it recklessly.
Think about the numerous lavish and not so lavish parties people throw during the festive season. Happiness can be shared.
On Wednesday I had the honor of chairing the 2018 Oxford and Cambridge Alumni Annual Dinner. This is a tradition held since 1940 and the dress code is black tie.
I exercised my prerogative as Chair to “siphon” some money from the dinner fees, paid by more than 200 members and guests. We donated a modest 10,000 baht sum to the UNHCR.
The small sum is but a drop of water in the ocean that hopefully will help refugees in Syria or the Rohingya people. This is a small gesture, a reminder that an evening of joy for those gathered for a special dinner could and should also bring happiness outside an exclusive gathering. Others went further and will spend the New Year at, say, an orphanage or home for the elderly to feed and comfort those in need.
The joyous season can be meaningful, happiness can be spread no matter how thin.
Let us rejoice in life and humanity while we are still in this world.
Merry Christmas! Belated Happy Hanukkah and a Happy New Year to you all!