I went for a walk through the village on a recent morning and ran into a cognitive dissonance situation. I was walking down one street when I glanced to my right and saw Rudolph and his red nose lit up on a front lawn. The cognitive dissonance rose up when I walked a little further down the road and saw a giant pumpkin sitting on different lawn looking like the end of a Halloween party. My head could not figure out what holiday it was supposed to be celebrating.
I thought we were in Thanksgiving mode but there was not a giant turkey to be found on any lawns along my walk. It started to bother me the closer I got to home. By the time I turned the corner to my house and saw another set of red and green lights strung up on a front porch, I decided I had enough and I was going to express my displeasure!
Over coffee I started railing to my wife about how dare these people put their Rudolphs and snowmen out before I have had a chance to enjoy my turkey and mashed potatoes. I was hollering about the fact that I went into a store the other day and the first display I saw was one of candy canes and chocolate Santas. A woman I work with told me that one of the local radio stations has started in with the holiday music already. I shouted that I’m not yet prepared to listen to Perry Como tell me that (There’s No Place) Like Home for the Holidays.
Once my wife talked me down and told me that she didn’t want to start her day by listening to me bellyache about some lawn decorations, I started to realize that (once again) she was right. What right do I have to get upset about what someone else is doing? We are in a hard time right now. People are trying their best to stay on the good side of things. If that means that they are going to put Rudolph out on their front lawn and light up his red nose-Go For It!
The Stoic Marcus Aurelius said “Do not waste the remaining part of your life in thoughts about other people, when you are not thinking in reference to some aspect of the common good.” I need to make sure that I am careful not to let my thoughts wander where they did on my walk that recent morning. There was no common good in those thoughts. I will celebrate the season in my own way and I will allow others to celebrate in their own way.
I’ll do this if for no other reason than I don’t want to ruin my wife’s morning coffee again.