The country has been in a slow grinding slide ever downward for some time now. Taxes are being added at an alarming rate, while our paychecks are vanishing at an even faster one. Food costs are rising, as is everything else. Jobs, homes, businesses, life savings and retirements are being lost--while massive crushing debt is gained. The ghoulish specter of runaway inflation is creeping ever nearer. We see a government and its elites getting richer and more powerful, while the people beneath them are being made poorer and weaker. We see loss after loss of traditional freedom and right, as Executive Orders and Congressional Bills hit us, one after the other, like a Middle Eastern stoning. And we realize that we might be ones that see the American Dream turned into a nightmare.
And it doesn't end there.
For every time we turn on the news or load up the internet or pick up a paper we see natural disasters wrecking entire populations, the utter financial failure of yet another nation, bloody wars spilling into country after country, insane despotic leaders threatening nuclear war against anyone who stands against them, terrorists shrieking death to everyone who will not bow to their rule--and more and more and more as the world seems to slowly death spiral into burning collapse.
The despair is tangible now. The anger is growing.
And so is the fear.
We heard it for the first time openly this last Christmas. As despair and anger and fear fought against the holiday. Over and over in stores and streets, the bitterly grieving whispers echoed: "Why are we even bothering to celebrate anymore? What have we got to look forward to now--the apocalypse?"
But the greatest evil despair and anger and fear brings us is not destruction. It is forgetting.
You see, throughout time, every country, every people, have experienced the very thing we are now: dark days. Just think back to your classroom years and page again through the old history book that once lay on your desk.
The Irish Potato Famine
The Black Death
Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Zedong.
Damghan, Antioch, and Crete earthquakes.
World War I and II, the Korean and Vietnam wars.
And on and on and on. From the beginning of humanity to its end, there has always been dark days. Always. And yet, humanity has always celebrated. Even in the midst of the darkest of days, they still celebrated.
Because they remembered what we are in danger of currently forgetting.
The very purpose of celebration: hope, gratitude, and joy.
Hope that good will come, that suffering will have an end, that we can rise again and that there is still reason to rejoice even now. That this isn't all--that there is more and it will come. That we can be more than what we are now. That we can do it, no matter how hard or impossible it seems--for others have.
Gratitude to survive, to live, to have even a single tiny thing to make life more bearable. For all the great deeds or hard work or bitter suffering of others, which have come down through time or from across nations or even from people you never knew even existed, to now directly effect your life and the lives of others for the better. For all the sacrifices that have been given to save you and anyone else who needed saving, even in the smallest of moments. For every act of kindness or goodness or mercy or honor which ever made all the difference.
Joy, that darkness does have an end, that evil does not and cannot last forever, that good can come out of or in spite of any suffering, that there is a purpose to life which is noble and grand--and that there is something majestic and beautiful and greater beyond, waiting for us and it more than worth anything we suffer now.
Celebrations are reminders.
So how do we celebrate in dark days? When times are hard and we just don't have all the things we used to have to celebrate with--how do we still celebrate then?
Easy. We go back to our ancestors' ways of celebrating.
Throughout the world and across time, there are two common parts of celebration.
First, there is the expression of the reason of the celebration. This can be an oral recitation or reading of the record of the event being celebrated (like reading The Nativity Story from the Bible or the priest's statement of "We are gathered here today to. . ." at a wedding, for Christians) or it can be a reenactment or ceremony/rite performance (like Hanukkah for Jews) which is a physical way to recite the event and connect the present celebration with the past event.
Second, there is the showing of one or more or all of hope, gratitude and joy, through physical means. This can be anything from singing, dancing, game playing, gift giving and receiving, decorating surroundings or creating objects/art which signify important aspects of the reason being celebrated, and either consuming food or beverage or abstaining from one or both.
This means, if we want to celebrate, we need to have the knowledge of the thing we are celebrating as well as the physical expressions of it--and the necessary items to complete the celebration experience.
This means you need the record of the reason you are celebrating (books recording it or the accurate memory of an oral historian/authorized authority), instructions on any aspects of celebrating it (song lyrics, dance step instructions, ceremony or rite instructions, recipes, etc), and any objects or edibles necessary for completing the celebration (like particular herbs, candles, holy objects, etc).
I suggest you sit down and carefully go through the list of the celebrations you, your family, your religion, or your people/country celebrate. Write down each one and what you need to fulfill the experience properly--both in knowledge and items. I'm not talking about what the marketing industry would have you need to fulfill the experience--just you! Gather that information and those items and store them in labeled, waterproof containers in a specifically designated Holiday Section part of your Home Storage Supply we have talked about in a previous blog. It is really important that you take the time to do this carefully--get help from family members, religious leaders, etc, to make sure you don't accidentally forget something. Remember that you are celebrating for a specific reason, don't lose the meaning by getting buried in the marketing and don't forget to think outside the box when planning because you might not have electricity (think power out) or transportation (think blizzard or other such event) when you celebrate. And don't forget your personal or family 'tradition' take on the celebration!
For example, take a Christmas Tote/s.
Obviously, an artificial tree with stand and ornaments must reside in the Holiday Section of your Home Storage Supply. But, one tote can easily store the boxed, canned or bottled foods for the eating and drinking aspect--along with the recipes needed to make them. Remember to store ALL of the items needed for your recipes, as you can't count on being able to get anything outside of your home in dark days--you might not have any money to purchase them or they might not even be available then. Here is where a good ingredient alternative list comes in handy--as well as the knowledge of other ways foods and drinks come packaged/prepared. Remember any traditional treats or special diet needs--and take into account the amount of people you might have attending.
Another tote can hold necessary books (like a Bible, traditional song books, customary story books like The Night Before Christmas or other favorites, etc) and items you need (like candles, traditional games and their instructions, Nativity Set, etc). Be sure and put in the best quality you can--you might not be able to replace them and they may need to last a long time. Here is also where some generic traditional toys for children could be stored--like dolls, stuffed animals, games, etc. While you should be able to make your own toys/gifts with the information, supplies and tools in your Home Storage Supply (even be able to add your ability to trade or barter to help you), it is important that you also have some 'ready made' toys/gifts just in case you have someone you didn't original expect (like a child orphaned or fostered or staying with you--or one in your area that would not otherwise receive anything). Again, always store the best quality items you can--it will make all the difference to someone! And they might be all they will have.
Dark days have never stopped celebrations before--don't let them stop you now. Go back to 'basics', past the marketing and fluff. Go back to the true meaning of your celebrations. To what truly matters. Because if you take the time to truly understand the real reason behind a celebration, then even if you have absolutely nothing but yourself, you can still experience the hope, gratitude and joy its remembrance is meant to bring you.
And those can take you through even the Apocalypse.
Because those will give you the courage and perspective to see past it.
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