This holiday season promises to be the toughest for many families. Hundreds of thousands lost jobs in November, still more have had hours cut and responsibilities added. Living in a culture, which praises economic status as a measure of success, responsibility, and prestige puts a lot of pressure on people even when times aren’t as tough.

We’ve all heard the cheesy lines about how the holidays are about family and religious significance. We all also know that what everyone is really looking forward to is generally the presents. Unfortunately, it often happens that materialism victimizes millions of people and turns them into drooling, rabid “gimme” monsters. The saddest victims, as always, are the youngest.

It’s time to remind people why people are more important than things, and it’s not because they are the producers of things. It’s because other humans are the reason we have holidays in the first place. They looked up in the sky and noticed the positions of stars and planets, figured out how to use this information for agriculture, and that’s why we are able to eat, drink, and be merry. Oh, and there are the myths and legends about Mabon’s birth of the Sun, and Mary’s birth of the Son- the stories that taught us all our lives about the beauty and preciousness of life and hope of the future.

Winter Solstice is the longest day of the year- every day henceforth becomes longer. Ergo, the Winter Solstice is the rebirth of the sun, the promise of spring and renewal. It is the universal law that seasons change. From nature’s model we have learned that as the seasons wax and wane, so do times of hardship and times of abundance. In times of hardship, the people who come together to help and celebrate each other are the ones who not only survive but also learn to thrive.

So instead of fretting that you can’t afford that car for your wife or that mp3 player for your nephew, focus on the little things that make you like each other in the first place and the activities that draw you closer. Even if you can’t afford much, if everyone has something to do to contribute, everyone will feel important and needed.

If all else fails, nothing works on little kids like plates of cookies and fudge all over the table- especially if they helped to make it. On adults, nothing works like bourbon- infused eggnog. If you don’t drink, combine sleep deprivation with a sugar high and one of those games that involves a blindfold and being spun around three times.

Above all, remind everyone how important they are and that there would be no use for holidays without them. After all, why else would we ever put up with all those crazy people?