Opinion: Christmas Is Inclusive - If You make it that way

John M. Dabbs

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Inclusion in a diversified worldMiles Peacock/Unsplash

Christmas is a special time of year. It isn't just because of the spiritual celebration of Christians in recognizing the birth of Jesus, it is much more. It falls shortly after or in conjunction with Hannukah at times, as the religions are monotheistic and recognize the same God. That doesn't mean that Hannukah is the celebration of the Messiah's birth, it is the celebration of a miracle. We need miracles in our lives.

As the first day of winter falls on the winter solstice this year, we each have a tendency to get the blues. The days are shorter and our time at work seems longer than during the summer. We have fewer daylight hours to devote to our family and our own interests due to the seasons. The gloom is worse with the colder temperatures and often much more precipitation that we experienced during the typically dry autumn. The community spirit may dwindle as we all seek to huddle inside with warmth and dryness.

Inclusion

The area in which I live is one of the most diverse in my state, in types of couples and relationships. I was totally oblivious to this until someone from another part of the state told me. I asked others I knew, who confirmed this. I didn't think anything about it one way or the other. I know people from different countries, continents, religions, and people who have different sexual preferences and orientations than myself. I thought everyone did.

I think people are just people, and they all act the same. We are all abnormal at times when comparing ourselves to others. Some of us act quite rudely to others and can be quite opinionated. Others have flaming personalities. But you know what? I know people from all groups who act like this. Many groups are often stereotyped as acting like this, but it's all of us to some degree or another.

Change

Change is hard. It doesn't matter whether you just lost your job, or found out that your significant other favors someone, or someone of a different sex than you. I've heard it all - well... most of it. It's easy to get depressed with all of this gets to us. There's too much going on this time of year to let this type of stuff get you down. We need our friends and family, and often have to seek them out instead of expecting them to come to us.

When the days were warm and sunny, we could often find time to mingle with friends or neighbors - if not family. It was easy to fire up the barbecue grill and have some hotdogs or hamburgers to feed the group for a penance (relatively speaking). The inflation we've experienced this year has all of our pockets lighter as we spend more cash to get the same amount of food. Times are often tighter, even with a bonus or raise at work due to the rising costs of commuting to work, eating out, and buying groceries for home.

I personally took a hit when the weather began its first cold snap this season. My heat pump went out. I called the company who installed my new unit just two years ago. They had to install a new fan housing, coolant valve, and a new compressor. The first service technician discovered they hadn't even wired in my electric heat strips for emergency heat when the unit was installed. Thankfully, the heat pump was still under warranty with Amana... but the labor costs for the service call and repairs were nearly $800. That took a serious chunk out of my budget. It impacted my Christmas shopping, grocery shopping, and eating out. Ouch!

The grim reminders of life being a gift have also played heavily with my family this year. I lost a brother-in-law to rapid-onset dementia, and a close aunt to a stroke - all of these in the past few months. Elderly parents are accompanied by my aunts and uncles of similar ages. The times have changed, as they always do. My wife and sons are always busy, and I try to keep involved with their lives too - so that we might all spend some quality time together. I believe it is important to make memories and have experiences together as a family. Life is too short.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN
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