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The Joy Of Mere Existence

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Enough with this year. Let's get it over with and start 2010. No celebration required.

I usually don't observe holidays nor do I get overly festive and become bloated with jolly good cheer. I essentially think everything is empty and meaningless until we choose to give meaning to the things we want to imbue. Traditions are great, and they represent many things to many people and thus, come with huge expectations and responsibilities. For me, running my life and business are plenty. I like to find meaning in the everyday things that affect my life, my health, and my happiness. Getting drunk and festive on the same day as everyone else is not one of them.

Yes, we just celebrated Christmas, or, actually you did. I haven't seen, or experienced, the wonderment of mistletoe since high school but no one would call me a Scrooge. (Having said that, yes, I did watch "Scrooged" last week while lying around my apartment on Christmas Day. It was a double movie feature, topped off with "Christmas with the Kranks.") Because I'm Jewish one could understand my avoidance of Christmas. But I've grown weary of Adam Sandler's hook and don't really care who plays with a dreidel, either.

What did I do for Thanksgiving? I golfed. Then I cooked fish, not turkey, for some Korean friends. It was a great day. They would have joined me earlier but work in a sushi restaurant and didn't have the day off. My kind of folk.

Now that New Year's is upon us I will probably have a few glasses of wine, hang out with friends; none of which is really different than any other night. I will hear the revelers outside my window, but then again, I live next to the Pier in Santa Monica, and that's generally the mood every weekend as tourists flock to the beach and bars nearby. The only real difference will be watching the news to see how many DUI and traffic accidents happened this year compared to last. Oh yeah, and the goofy glasses that spell out the numbers in the year while allowing for lenses in the two "Os" in 2010. Come 21111 I can't wait to see what they do.

I'm not alone in my disdain. Many people complain about the over commercialism going on with the holidays. As a marketer I stand convicted of exploiting that side of things. Who hasn't noticed that the day Halloween is over the Thanksgiving cards and decorations fill the shelves. Toss out that turkey and left over cranberries on the last Friday of November and it's time to put the tree up. If most retailers have their way it will be one big holiday after another. In a few years we'll need a month with NO HOLIDAY just to get our wits about us!

Back to the most recent occasion: baby New Year. In the Wall Street Journal last week I read a good article by Simon Winchester on the "Case Against the New Year." The gist of his article was that most countries don't celebrate the New Year quite like Westerners. For most, there isn't the same significance to go out and drink with reckless abandoned only to welcome January 1st with a hangover and possibly good story to go with it. As a person who owns a business and does manufacturing overseas I'm more concerned about the Chinese New Year in February when most of the factories close down for a week or more. To me, that has significance!

Granted, by now you may think I am a real downer but my vote is to make every day meaningful. Not just the ones we're told to make that way. Last week I flew to Virginia and was amazed how nice everyone was. I'm thinking it was the holiday merriment or I was mistaken and Virginia is just the happiest place in the world. In Los Angeles, I was met with the same infectious cheer at LAX. Sorry Virginia, must be Christmas. I have to admit, it elevated my mood, if only until I got to the forty- person-long taxi line.

But really, if we have to celebrate 2009, let's rejoice that we made it through a very tough year and make the resolution that in 2010 every day will be meaningful; every day will be full of life and love and a joy in the habit of mere existence. I'm hoping that in 2010 I can finally convince my Valentine to celebrate on February 15th when roses will be cheap and we'll be able to go to the restaurant of our choice.

Now that is finally something to celebrate!

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