Kalo mina! Good month!
I was introduced to this Greek phrase by a dear Greek friend, Ioanna. Ioanna and I were flatmates when I studied abroad in Scotland–has it really been almost nine years since we’ve seen each other?
On the first of each month, she would say, “Good month.”
At my perplexed face, Ioanna explained that in Greece they greet one another on the first of the month, wishing people a good month. In the same way that we say, “good morning,” “good evening,” or “have a good week,” Greeks give good wishes for the longer period of a month.
Or, looking at it from a different perspective, they take the short view of wishing friends a happy new year–wouldn’t it be nice if we looked at the beginning of each month with the same refreshment as a new year?
Today it is December, and the holiday season is upon us. The holiday season is pitched as being the “most wonderful time of the year.” I happen to love the songs and the traditions of the season. My mother has always made holidays special and the memories are wonderful. (The food and the drinks also feed my creative cooking side.)
But the truth is, for many people and for many reasons, this time of year is not the most wonderful time of the year. For many people, it’s a really crummy time of the year. For others, it’s no different than any other time of the year.
No doubt, the holiday season means spending more time with loved ones, shopping, expressing emotions that we don’t often show, or taking part in religious traditions. This can be joyous.
These same activities, though, can often be sad, painful, or stressful.
For those estranged from their families; others who spend their days and nights balancing care giving responsibilities for their loved ones all year long; those who just have complicated relationships; or those whose families are incredibly loud when you are used to a quiet apartment in Uptown (no one is naming names, here), being around your family can be complex and stressful. (Even if you are looking forward to spending quality time!)
For those who live paycheck to paycheck; those looking for jobs; or those whose medical bills or student loans take priority over sweaters and gifts, shopping and gift giving can be ulcer inducing and tear-jerking. The decisions that people make between groceries and paying the heating bill can outweigh showing you care through a gift wrapped electronic device.
And of course, religion and emotions are complicated by their very nature. (And please, let’s not get into the Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays debate. Are we really still having this argument?)
Beyond this, people are often just dealing with disease or mental illness or the loss of a loved one or a heavy workload or any number of things that make this living thing hard.
And, let’s all be reminded–it’s cold! It’s very cold and it gets dark really early. Those two things are tough to deal with. (So.many.layers.)
Nonetheless there is social pressure to put a smile on your face and take part in all the joy and songs and celebrations. It’s hard. It can be hard.
The overload of brightly lit and super catchy commercials tell us that we should be happy! cheery! thankful! feel all the feels!
Your social media outlet of choice is likely dotted with thoughtful reflections about the “true” meaning of the season juxtaposed with the overflow of gift wrapped, heartfelt presents. (I assume people are posting these posts while on a sprinkle-coated sugar high.)
Here’s the thing. Perhaps the end of the year is a wonderful time for you to be reflective and take stock of your emotions and blessings and struggles. Perhaps it is a good time for you to be aware of those around you and touch base with those you haven’t talked with in a long time. Perhaps it is a good time to express gratitude or say some things you’ve been meaning to say.
But then again, maybe it’s not a good time for you to do these things. Maybe you need to do what you need to do, to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
That’s for you to decide.
Today is December 1. Good month! Cheers to you and yours!
And if it doesn’t turn out to be the most wonderful month, we’ll try again next month.
If you are feeling the spirit of the season and want to “give back” to those who might need some help this season, I encourage you to take part in Giving Tuesday tomorrow, or volunteer or donate at some other point this month. Find a cause that resonates with you and take action! That’s what makes a lasting difference.
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