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Joy to the World - The Gift of Travel

Posted by A Colin Treadwell on 12/20/2018
Posted in: Musings From Colin Treadwell
Tags: Travel

I love the December holiday season when the year slows down heading into the winter solstice and the normal activities of the world pause to give recognition to certain values that seem to get lost during the year.

Christmas is the occasion once a year when we celebrate peace on earth, and good will toward men. I find it tremendously encouraging that we still set aside time to honour those oft-forgotten values: peace, love – and don’t forget joy!

Human beings have the capacity to experience joy, and we should exercise that capacity. Christmas provides us an annual reminder that we are more than toiling beasts. December is the signpost that reminds us that another year has flown by and we deserve to pause for some pleasure, relaxation and enjoyment.

The winter celebrations didn’t start with Christianity. The custom goes back much further. Before Christmas was Hanukkah, which comes a little earlier on the calendar. Hanukkah has different religious observances, but the two occasions have underlying affinities. Both come near the end of the solar year when days have shortened in the northern hemisphere. Both are celebrations of light that were born out of earlier festivals that celebrated the coming of light at the winter solstice.

Joys of Saturn
The Roman festival of Saturnalia was dedicated to Saturn, the Roman god of time and agriculture. In the earliest times Saturnalia took

Colin Treadwellplace in early December. During the late Republic, a century and a half before the birth of Jesus, Saturnalia was moved to later on the calendar and stretched out to a week-long celebration from December 17-24.

Quoting the History Channel: “During this jolliest and most popular of Roman festivals, social norms fell away as everyone indulged in gambling, drinking, feasting and giving gifts.”

Sounds a lot like us today.

But Saturnalia was not the first of the winter festivals either. It evolved from earlier farming rituals connected to the solstice and the return of the sun. There are innumerable variations of the winter festivals throughout world history and many of their rituals have been incorporated into the Christmas holiday that is celebrated today in much of the world.

December 25 is the official holiday, but the celebratory mood permeates the entire month. And it’s not just for people who observe the Christian religion. Today’s version of Christmas has become an amalgamation of rituals from many different cultures and religions over thousands of years. The impulse to celebrate the winter solstice seems to be deeply ingrained in world culture.

Follow Your Star
Travel is one of the most joyous kinds of celebration. It adds a dimension to any occasion. For me the Christmas/Hanukkah season would be incomplete without some travel.

Wherever you travel during the holiday season you can carry the holiday spirit with you, and you can enjoy the way the locals celebrate. During the holiday season the celebratory mood is in the air. Wherever you go you can take the Christmas spirit with you, and feel it reflected back.

I have found myself in a great variety of places in December. It’s odd to see a Christmas tree in a tropical setting like Hawaii. But you get the message. The images of Christmas that are historically associated with Germany, Britain or America, sleigh bells in the snow and all that, are strikingly out of place in Hawaii. But it is touching that the underlying messages of joy, hope and love have been embraced and are celebrated in remote corners of the world. Hawaii may not have snow and reindeer, but when you are there, you don’t miss them.

The Gift of Travel
But not everyone wants to carry their travel pace into December. For many people, travel during the holidays is limited to visiting family, and that’s good too. It’s nice to take it easy during the holiday period, to rest up after a busy year, reflect on the past and the future and recharge in preparation for the next year, which will pick up its relentless pace again in January.

But there’s another way that travel can brighten up the holiday season and that is through giving travel as a gift. One of the results of corporate globalization and free trade agreements of recent decades is a great abundance of consumer goods available at very low prices. But every trend runs its course and sets the stage for the next trend, often contrary to the last. One thing we’ve seen with the rising availability of all kinds of consumer goods is what could be called goodies fatigue.

At this point Americans have been awash in consumer goods for so long all these flashy goodies are losing their appeal. People are evolving to a point where they no longer feel that their lives will be fulfilled by purchasing more stuff. Buying more goodies becomes a knee-jerk response to the sound of Christmas carols. But for many people the experience of owning ever more material things is losing its luster.

The thrill of material goods begins to wane when you have more things than you know what to do with. People increasingly realise that your ultimate possession is time. Consumer goods may seem to be almost inexhaustibly abundant, but time is not.

As many aphorisms have stated, all your wealth can’t add one minute to your lifespan. So increasingly people are realizing that consumer goods are not what make their souls soar.

I don’t want to impose religion upon you, but the St. James translation of the Book of Matthew says it so poetically: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Some may object to my interpretation of this verse, but I have certainly found it to be true that as the years go by the things that stick with me are not material things, but experiences, which stay inside of you and which no one can take from you as long as you live.

Therefore, rather than piling more consumer goods on your loved ones, I suggest considering the gift of travel. That is something that will really stick. A great travel experience will last a lot longer than that new flat screen TV that’s maybe a few inches wider than the previous TV, which will now have to find a new place to reside, maybe in the garage or at the trash pick-up point where you faintly hope someone will find it and save it before it heads to the landfill.

It’s something to think about this holiday season. Whatever you do, however you celebrate, I wish you all the best this holiday season. Please make the most of the end of the year and take a break from all the harsher aspects of life. Give yourself a break, have some fun and recognize the transcendent possibilities of life. Rejoice in love for your fellow human beings.

You humble reporter,

A. Colin Treadwell


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