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    tatsutsume
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    It seems during this time of year that many people forget what these holidays are meant to remind us of and get carried away in the hype and marketing schemes put on us by the corporations and manufacturers of every product imaginable.  Truth is they have taken these wonderful days and turned them against us, made us forget the true meanings and brought out the worst in most of us.  We have been told that we need various things and, with the help of supply and demand, actually will do just about anything to get it.  In recent years there have been some things that have been produced in limited supply so as to produce a kind of riot, and that is exactly what happened.  People being trampled by a mob, being shot or stabbed for a product and even people being beaten severely all in the name of getting that certain thing that their kid or themselves “can’t live without.”  Really people!?! Really?  Is this what we have reduced to?  Mindless drones buying everything we are sold because the commercial on TV said so?  Let me remind you of what these days are supposed to do but commercialism has stolen away from us just to make a buck.

    Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday in honor of the first feast of giving thanks between the Pilgrims and Indians many, many years ago.  The Pilgrims were thankful to the Indians for showing them how to hunt, harvest and survive the winter months in their new home.  We often forget to mention that in return for the Indians showing them how to survive the settlers that came behind murdered and stole from the Indians, treated them as uncivilized savages and breed animosity against them so that they treated with distrust and bias.  But these things were left out.  So forget all about the First Thanksgiving and focus only on the word Thanksgiving itself.  This word means to give thanks, but for what.  Think of all the things in your life, big or small, that you are thankful for.  Some may find this hard in that they will think only of the physical possessions they don’t have or things they once owned but no longer have.  I want you to think about the fact that you woke up this morning and you are alive and well, or the fact that you have a roof over your head and clothes on your back, or that your family is with you.  When we cut the actual physical things in our lives out and are thankful for what is really important then we understand Thanksgiving differently and appreciate the holiday more.  I charge all of you who read this to take it that one step further and make everyday a day of thanksgiving, never forgetting the simple pleasures that we are allowed but forget to be thankful for.

    Christmas, the combined Latin words Christ and Mass, in an invention of the Holy Roman Church in order to bring pagan followers into the Christian, or more precisely Catholic, religion.  December 25th, though the claimed birthday by many gods, is not the birthday of Jesus but in fact the Winter Solstice celebrated out of fear that, because the days were getting shorter and the weather colder, the Sun was not going to light or warm the people of the earth anymore.  There are many stories behind this and I do not want to get into a debate on what is fact or fiction on this matter.  None-the-less Christmas was started to gather pagan followers to the Catholic Church and was placed right on top of the Winter Solstice.  They called this day “Christ’s Mass” and it was later shortened to Christmas, then shortened even more to X-mas so as to not offend non-Christian people.  The common celebration is the gathering of friends and family to feast and exchange gifts, but for what reason.  The Church tells us that it is because we were given Jesus as a gift so we must give gifts in remembrance of the gift we’ve been given.  This seems a bit weak in that the giving of a physical, worldly possession dims in comparison of the gift of life and of giving of oneself to save others.  Fact is it was a Roman tradition that men would gather to get drunk, give gifts and fornicate with one another on December 25th and that is where the tradition of giving gifts came from.  Don’t get me wrong, I celebrate Christmas just like many people do, but the joy of giving a gift means something different to me.  You see the value of a gift isn’t in how much it cost or where it came from but in the fact that the giver gave it from the heart.  It is for this very reason that when I am given anything it becomes precious to me and I just can’t find it in my heart to give or sell a gift given from the heart.  This is something that has been lost in todays hustle and bustle of capitalistic commercialism.  We have been mislead to believe that it is not important that you give from the heart but that you spend as much as you can on it.  That the value in a gift is in it’s price tag or manufacturer.  Supply and Demand are the new holiday buzzwords for store owners, for if it’s in high demand and short supply the price goes up and people who really want that item to make someone or themselves happy will pay it.  They have proven they will do much more than that, some would kill or maim, steal or rob others just to get it.  The sad thing is none of that matters to the people making the profits as long as those profits keep coming in.  They feign concern for the victims of crimes committed because of the craze created for their product so as to save face in the public eye.  I beg of you people reading this to realize that these are two days a year set aside to remember to do good things for our fellow human beings and living creatures.  Just two days?  Only two?  Who said that we need to only give to others out of the kindness of our hearts on just a couple days a year?  Oh, that’s right!  We don’t give out of the kindness of our hearts but because we have to because we don’t want to look bad for not doing so.  When you’re out “Christmas” shopping this year, I want you to think about the person you’re buying the present for.  Are you doing it because you feel you have to or because you want to?  Are you getting something you can afford to get them that they will like or getting something they want that is expensive that will be replaced in a couple of months with the latest gadget to come out?  Will the person appreciate what you are giving them or will they complain about it and throw it in the trash after you leave?  My advice is to not get anything for those who will not appreciate what they get and expect to be given things because of the times, and to give things to those who will far more appreciate it because they know what it means to receive a gift from the heart.  Lastly, I want to charge those who read this to give without the expectation of receiving, because it is the act of giving from the heart that makes us happy, not receiving.  We have been lied to and told that happiness is getting the things you want, but those things will not make you happy.  They will make you feel happy for a while, but that happiness fades.  True happiness comes from inside us, from the heart.  Remember this when you open the door for a stranger that doesn’t acknowledge you or say thank you, or allow someone to get in front of you in the grocery store line and they take it for granted.  Do these things because you are compelled to, not because it is right and makes you look good, but because your heart tells you to so that you can be happy.  Do this year ’round as well for giving is not limited to Birthdays, Anniversaries and Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa, but everyday in the gifts you give out of the kindness of your heart.

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