dear summer…

Dear Summer,

Long time no see! Although it’s never a secret when you show up. One day it’s suddenly 80 degrees and your sun is shining in the bright blue, cloudless sky. As soon as your energy bursts through the atmosphere, the world changes. The days become longer and the nights get hotter. In these short months, you give us, this is when memories are made. Your extroverted personality brings out the adventure in me. As soon as I feel the hot sun beating down on me I want to run with the winds of change and explore the unexplored.

This is the time when the earth is suddenly more populated and people are smiling. My footsteps become a little lighter and my spirit flys a little higher. I wait for you all year long just to make these memories with you, and just as my high comes when you arrive the crash is just as hard when the leaves start to fall.

Hello Summer, let’s go make some memories.

 

A Year Abstaining from Holidays: Mother’s Day

A year abstaining from holidays does include all holidays, that means Hallmark Holidays as well, and that includes Mother’s Day. This is where abstaining from holidays can become very difficult and emotional. But, before we get into that, let’s look into the history and creation of Mother’s Day.

mothers-dayCelebrations of Mother’s Day isn’t just a Hallmark Holiday, believe it or not. “It can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as ‘Mothering Sunday‘. Once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home—for a special service. Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.” (History.com)

In America, Mother’s Day celebrations can also date back the 19th Century before the mothers-dayCivil War when Anne Reeves Jarvis in West Virginia started a collection of “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” which taught local women how to raise children. Eventually, this club was seen as a unifying force during the Civil War when Jarvis began “Mother’s Friendship Day” when mothers would gather with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation. Another precursor to Mother’s Day was former abolitionist suffragette Julia Ward Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870 as a call to action to mother’s to unite for world peace. In 1873 Howe campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated every June 2. Other early Mother’s Day pioneers include Juliet Calhoun Blakely, a temperance activist who inspired a local Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the 1870s. The duo of Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering, meanwhile, both worked to organize a Mothers’ Day in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (History.com)

The official Mother’s Day holiday came to be in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. After her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. in May 1908 she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. By 1912 many states, towns and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday. In 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Since then, Mother’s Day has unfortunately become overtly commercialized which was actually the exact opposite of what Jarvis wanted. She even protested against the commercialization of her holiday when originally she wanted it to be a personal recognition of mothers in the United States. (History.com)

For me, Mother’s Day has always been difficult. My parents are divorced and I live with my father. I visit my mother on occasion as she suffers from mental illnesses. Some mothers-dayMother’s Days weren’t celebrated at all, others were full of heartache because my mother and I couldn’t get along. Telling my mother I was spending a year not celebrating holidays was extremely difficult for her. She has spent some holidays alone… and this is also the reason I want to remove myself from this holiday stigma. Holidays can be a wonderful time for families to come together, but it also leaves others who cannot always see their families in pits of sadness, feeling empty inside because another day passed by spent alone, the only difference is it had a special name. I want to erase that stigma for myself and take the time to do what I feel is right for me on a day which has a name that is celebrated so much, and figure out if it is significant to me.

This Mother’s Day I did spend time with my mother. Instead of buying her a gift or taking her out to dinner. We sat and had a nice conversation over coffee and I left after telling her, “You really are a great mom.” And that is how I think a Mother’s Day should be spent.

To read on why I’m abstaining from holidays for a year, please follow this link.

And to read on my advice for telling family members and friends, please follow this link.

 

A Year of Abstaining from Holidays: May the Fourth be With You & Revenge of the Fifth ( or Cinco De Mayo?)

May the Fourth be with You and Cinco De Mayo are two drastically different yearly celebrations, however, they land within the same time period so I am going to dedicate this blog to the both of them.

May the Fourth be with You & Revenge of the Fifth

Let’s start with May the Fourth be With You. I’ve got, to be honest, this was a difficult one for me not to celebrate. I am a huge Star Wars Fan and really wanted to bring out my lightsaber. Therefore, I decided to take the time to research the holiday instead. I did always wonder, why exactly the fourth of May was a yearly day to celebrate Star Wars.

stawars4mayMay the Fourth be with You, actually started off as an internet pun. But the earliest known record of this holiday was actually used in 1979 pop-culture. As described here by author Alan Arnold while he was chronicling the making of The Empire Strikes Back for Lucasfilm:

“Margaret Thatcher has won the election and become Britain’s first woman prime minister. To celebrate their victory her party took a half page of advertising space in the London Evening News. This message, referring to the day of victory, was ‘May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations,’ further proof of the extent to which Star Wars has influenced us all.”

The pun didn’t necessarily start with Lucasfilm, but with Star Wars fans. As most internetrevenge-of-the-5th-t-shirt puns progress, it started with one person and skyrocketed from then on. Even though Lucasfilm didn’t create it, they happily embraced it. Along with May the Fourth be with You, we now also have the Revenge of the Fifth. These are now two days when Star Wars fans alike can celebrate the Star Wars franchise and simply have a good time.

(Information Gathered From: http://www.starwars.com/may-the-4th)

From all this research and seeing how difficult it was to actually not celebrate this holiday, I think this holiday is worth celebrating for myself in the future. May the fourth be with you, and also with you.

 

Cinco De Mayo

To be honest, I actually forgot Cinco De Mayo was happening this year. I remember celebrating it a couple times in the past but I didn’t even know what the holiday was for. Once again, I decided to look this up.

A lot of people say that Cinco De Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day, but their Independence Day is actually celebrated every year on Septemeber 16th. Cinco De Mayo is the celebration of the Battle of Puebla which took place decades later.

“In 1861, Benito Juárez—a lawyer and member of the indigenous Zapotec tribe—was Battle-of-pueblaelected president of Mexico. At the time, the country was in financial ruin after years of internal strife, and the new president was forced to default on debt payments to European governments. In response, France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz, Mexico, demanding repayment. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew their forces. France, however, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to carve an empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large force of troops and driving President Juárez and his government into retreat.” (history.com)

“6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his new headquarters in the north, Juárez rounded up a ragtag force of 2,000 loyal men—many of them either indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry—and sent them to Puebla. The vastly outnumbered and poorly supplied Mexicans, led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On May 5, 1862, Lorencez gathered his army—supported by heavy artillery—before the city of Puebla and led an assault. The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash.” (history.com)

Cinco-De-Mayo_tcm25-427620So, how is this victory celebrated today? Well, in Mexico, only Puebla civilians actually celebrate Cinco De Mayo. The reason the holiday has progressed in America is because at the time of the Battle of Puebla the Civil War was going on in the states. Mexicans in the US generally sided with the Union and so the Battle of Puebla as encouragement that the Union could actually win. Cinco De Mayo began to take on its new meaning in the states. Chicano activists in the 1960’s brought more awareness to the holiday as a way to resemble overcoming European oppression. Today the holiday is still recognized to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage… however, for some non-Mexican citizens, the holiday has become just another excuse to get drunk and wear sombreros.

For me, this holiday doesn’t have much significance to my life. I support American-Mexicans, but who am I to celebrate a heritage that isn’t mine or one that I know little about? I may consider celebrating if my Mexican friend wanted to grab a drink on that day because the holiday is important to them. However, for my own personal celebrations, I think I can cross this one off my list.

 

Want to know why I’m not celebrating holidays for a year? Read my first blog on this subject here:  A Year Abstaining from Holidays

dear university…

Dear University,

 

I transferred over to your campus after receiving my Associate’s Degree in Graphic Arts from my local community college, MVCC (Mohawk Valley Community College). You were an unexpected path in my journey but I couldn’t be more grateful to you. At the time of my first tour I was at an all time low of my life, my pride was diminished. But as soon as I stepped onto your campus grounds I knew this was it. UAlbany, or the University at Albany.

I was a small town girl who only experienced the growth that a local community college could give to hand, but you taught me so much more. Your corridors were filled with students from around the world! Intimidating at first, but so worth the risk. I had taken a semester off school and finished working as a hostess at Olive Garden. I had gone from graduating with honors to feeling like a small speck of dust but you lifted me right back up!

The first gift you gave me was homesickness, and while this might sound contradictory, it really did help me in the long run. You helped me realize how important home actually was to me and how beautiful of a community I was raised in. I now look at Utica in a different light. It’s where I can make opportunities, no matter how small our city is. It’s where I want to progress and grow more with the knowledge you gave me. Homesickness also helped me grow up. My first time living away from home and cooking my own meals. It was a lot to handle but it was needed. I was nearly 20 years old after all.

The second gift you gave me is knowledge. Small towns build small minds and as open-minded, as I thought I might have been, I really had no idea. By meeting people from around the world I learned lessons I would not have learned anywhere else. I learned how to talk to people who were different than me and had different opinions. And most of all I learned how to stand up for myself and take my seat when deserved.

The third gift you gave me was experience. I thought I had a lot already, but I was not prepared for what you gave me. I feel like an adult woman now. I can handle my own problems and accept the fact that it’s okay for me to struggle sometimes. I’ve taken things easier than I ever have before. When I used to be high-strung, I am now the calmest person you will ever come across, as if I have no worries in the world.

The fourth gift you gave me was friendship. I didn’t date much and I never had a significant other here but man, did you give me a plethora of friends! Never in my life had I ever had more kind, genuine, compassionate, mature, and honest friends! Most of my friends I have known since high school from never leaving that tiny town. Never did I know that these incredible people whom I am so lucky to call my friends today have ever existed. These friends taught me how to love myself like no one had ever done before and I couldn’t be more grateful.

And now… here we are…

It’s the end of the semester. I have two days left to pack and say goodbye to you and the gifts you gave me. I am done with college after this. I will not have to earn any more degrees or experience college in the way I did before. The late night studying and chugging coffee for my next exam are done. The relentless research papers are done. The fire alarms at 1 in the morning are done. It’s all done. Now, I face the real world with even more freedom and 10 times more responsibility. I am happy to be going back home and sharing my new found knowledge with my friends and family there. I cannot wait to start new projects. And still, I am sad to be leaving this now past time. As much as I may have hated various moments and cried at certain times… it’s done a lot for me. And now, it will only be a memory. These people will soon be memories. I won’t forget it.

Thank you, University. Thank you.

A Year Abstaining from Holidays: Telling Family and Friends

I decided to take a year off celebrating holidays. That means my birthday, Hallmark holidays, national holidays… any type of specialized celebration celebrated by a majority of people. To understand why I came to this conclusion, please click here.

Today I am going to explain how that went over telling my family and friends. The first thing is they are going to be confused and there is no escaping that. You have to admit that not celebrating any holidays is a rather abnormal thing today in our world. Your family and friends will be confused, they will ask why, and even after explaining it they may still not understand. Your friends are more likely to be supportive in this situation though. The reason a family member is more likely to not understand or be supportive is because they get something out of celebrating holidays with you. They want you at that family dinner and they want you to have an excuse to come home.

With all this in mind, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell them. You should. It’s going to be a lot easier than suddenly not showing up for the Fourth of July and everyone’s wondering where you are. In fact, they may be more upset if you did that instead. It’s good to let them know ahead of time so you don’t get a surprise birthday present and have to turn it down because you are bravely abstaining from holidays for a year.

It’s also okay for them not to get it. What you need to understand is that you are doing this for yourself, fo your own interest, and your own spiritual journey. People will wonder and people will talk, but to ease their mind, maybe after they’re done celebrating Thanksgiving, invite people over for coffee to catch up. Encourage others to be happy for celebrating their holidays and listen to them. It’s all part of the growing process.