What’s the real reason that we love the holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah so much? Why do we love holidays and holy days in general so much? How do we keep that sense of peace and joy in everyday life? What does truly make us happy in a lasting sense in life?
Often times in life, especially when we are children, we think that we love the holidays because we get to receive gifts and eat good food. Yet, even as children, the winter holidays evoke so much hope and love and joy and positive expectation about life.
The Season of Hope
I would suggest that the real reason we love the holidays is that we do experience (so many of us do, anyways) at least hope, usually along with a good dose of love and peace, and maybe even some joy. The holidays give us an opportunity to enjoy life in a way that we typically don’t enjoy it on a day-to-day basis. That very sense of celebrating life lifts us up, giving us the feeling and the hope, and maybe even trusting that life is worth celebrating.
How many families have special rituals of gift-giving and food preparation that bring family members together around a common theme of celebrating and being grateful? How many families hope that this holiday season everyone will get along – and maybe everyone does?
This kind of hope springs eternal in the human heart – the hope that we will get along, that we will have peace, that life will always be worth celebrating, that love will find us, and that love will find a way. That’s what we truly celebrate during our holy-days. Life and love, hope, peace and joy, are all sacred qualities – sacred energies – that we experience as so positive and uplifting within us, and we generally love sharing those feelings with each other, at least with those who are close to us.
And yet, the truth is that love, joy, hope, and peace are already inside us. Love, hope, joy and peace are qualities of what might be called higher consciousness, or sacred consciousness. As opposed to jealousy and greed, or sadness and anger, all of which make us feel really negative, these positive qualities of higher consciousness make us feel good.
We all have higher consciousness, or at least the potential for this kind of higher consciousness within us. We are all capable of kindness, generosity, gentleness, compassion, empathy, peace, love, and joy, at least in our soul selves.
We all have what might be called enlightened consciousness already in us; most of us just haven’t yet had the training or experience to recognize higher consciousness from lower consciousness, or what can be called ego consciousness. Ego consciousness is all about “me, my, and mine, and what’s good for my body, without necessarily sharing that same concern for others, while also being about my family and my nation, and what’s good for "our" survival in a competitive, survival of the fittest sort of sense.” We all have some degree of ego consciousness within us.
But also, what is inside us in our deepest core selves is love, is peace, is joy, or at least hope and happiness, and a higher consciousness which loves to share all that sense of well-being with others. Higher consciousness hopes for and strives for love and happiness for everyone. We all have the potential for this higher consciousness deep inside ourselves.
The Potential Within Us
So, for instance, when we are hoping, or when we are loving and feeling at peace, we are centered in our core selves, which is the same as accessing higher consciousness. When we are living from our core selves, we will be expressing qualities such as truthfulness, compassion, patience, and acceptance, for all of these qualities are already in us. These qualities express the presence of higher consciousness within us.
We love our religion’s great leaders whom we celebrate during the holidays because they model this higher consciousness for us, and they model how this higher consciousness makes life better and potentially more peaceful for all of us. So, depending on our religion, we love Moses or Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha, because they show us how to be at peace. They help us feel loved. They bring us joy.
But inside each of us, we can access that higher consciousness that brings us greater love, peace, and joy, and helps us bring that through for others.
Some people access that higher consciousness by being in nature. Some people climb mountains, ride bikes, walk or run in nature and “get there” “in the zone” where they feel at peace in themselves and with the world.
Many of us have discovered meditation, or meditation and prayer, which have been proven not only for millennia to help us access higher consciousness, but which have also been scientifically studied and found to change our very brain wave patterns. Many of us use affirmations or mantras, or helpful phrases that change our thinking patterns, our feeling state, and thus our brain waves and our overall energy into a more positive energy for life.
Even those of us who believe in using lucky charms, or wearing our lucky shirt, are just using those symbols of good luck to shift our own thinking into the higher consciousness of believing that everything is going to be okay, of believing that we can be our best selves, and believing that we can and will do our best in a given situation.
If you are struggling with accessing the higher consciousness inside yourself, meditation, prayer, and various forms of energy healing (such as Reiki) can all be beneficial for helping you reach the positive qualities you seek. Or if the holidays don't offer you access to a family that makes you feel greater peace, love, and joy, seeking a retreat center where you can experience calm and peace for yourself may also be a good option to consider.
Human beings love higher consciousness, and we all have it inside us, because higher consciousness is what brings us a lasting sense of peace and goodwill. After all, peace and goodwill are what the holidays are all about and why we love the holidays so much. So often, the holidays make love and peace, hope and joy real for us. Most importantly, the holidays also help us to believe that we really do deserve to live with love and joy and peace every day of our lives, and that maybe, humanity will be able to share that all the way around the world.
May Your Holidays Be Merry Indeed!
Rev. Carol "Anandi" Richardson M.Div., M.P.H., combines wisdom and training from both East and West, and focuses on wellness in mind, body, and soul. She specializes in Reiki Energy Healing, Intuitive Life Coaching, Hypnotherapy, and Raja Yoga Meditation. She is the author of Mornings with the Masters: Mystical Journeys in a Postmodern World, Exodus 2012: A Mission to Save the Earth and Aging Well~Be Your Best Self Forever!.