As the holidays engulf us and the spirit of love and good cheer fill the spaces of our lives, we’re once again encouraged to think about what we’re thankful for, who we’re thankful for. We spend Thanksgiving sitting around our dining room tables, catching up with people we haven’t seen in months, maybe longer. We make Facebook statuses about everything we’re thankful for. On Christmas, we send text messages to friends we haven’t spoken to in months and give gifts to people we think might get us gifts, too, because we don’t want to look like we weren’t thinking of them. The holidays are wonderful because they make us remember all of the people we love in our lives and how we should be thankful for them – but shouldn’t we be thankful for them every day?
Let’s face it: We take people for granted. Maybe we don’t mean to. Life is busy, life is hard, and life doesn’t always leave room for keeping up with the lives of others.
The holidays are a time when we all list off the things that we’re thankful for, a time that makes us remember things we’ve forgotten are supposed to be important. We start thinking about New Years and how we need to come up with a resolution to tell people about, a resolution that we’ll try our hardest to make work for a few weeks before giving up on it as soon as February hits, March if we’re really determined. Every year we say it will be different. Our Facebook statuses become more heartfelt – that counts for something right? As soon as the holidays are over, we forget again. We forget to be thankful. We forget what’s important. We forget to check in on the people we love.
It’s on all our minds right now. The holidays, family, friends, being thankful. While it’s got our attention, I want to remind us all of something, something that we need to remember long after the holidays about the people we care about and being thankful for them. It’s not something we need to remember just for one day out of every year of the dozens we get to be here for. We need to remember it every day.
7 billion. Keep that number in your head for a second. That’s over how many people there are in the world right now. Billions. We forget about that sometimes, don’t we? When I went to search “how many people are in the world,” the first search Google came up with was “how many people have died from Ebola.” 7 billion people in the world, and thousands are dying every day. 7 billion people in the world, and in our lifetime we’ll barely even get to know a fraction of those people. On a close personal level, we’ll know only a few. That’s insane. There are strangers everywhere who we will never have the privilege of knowing and people are leaving this planet in every moment. It shouldn’t just be the holidays when we remember to appreciate the people we love. Wake up, humans. Fight for the ones that you want to keep in your life.
Some people may think about it differently. With so many people on this earth, they might say, then I have millions of chances to make connections. I don’t need to fight for one or two people. They’re expendable. That’s bullshit, and we should know it. In an age where technology is taking over and people are becoming less and less connected to each other, when we find someone who we can connect with as easily as we connected with our mother when we were first born, we can’t gamble with that. Whether it’s a cousin or a friend or a lover, that connection is important. Sure, there are billions of people in the world. Billions of people, and we found this one person we connect with. That’s incredible. Don’t let that person get away. Don’t just remember to care about them as your exchanging presents. Don’t take them for granted because you think they’ll always be there. Guarantee that they will be. Fight for them to be in your life. People always struggle with the concept of relationships, platonic and otherwise.
Things are always “complicated.” They live far away or they’re afraid of commitment or they’re too busy to make something work. Maybe I’m naïve, but these kinds of “conflicts” have never phased me. If you care about someone, you keep them in your life. Period. If you like someone, you fight for them, every day – not just on the days you’re told you should be thinking of them. If you love someone, if they get you better than anything else, if even 2 minutes of talking to this person makes you remember how deeply you care about them, then you should never let them go. Love doesn’t know any boundaries – or it shouldn’t, anyway. Love should be the one thing in this life that happens despite everything else. You’d think this would be the simplest thing for us to remember, but it’s not. If you let someone go, someone who makes you feel everything all at once because you care about them so god damn much, then you haven’t gotten it yet. You haven’t gotten why we’re all here.
As we gather for the holidays, we catch each other up on our lives, how we’ve been doing, all the success we’ve been making for ourselves. It’s important to be successful in life. That’s what we all want. We want to be actors, writers, musicians, doctors, lawyers, world changers. We’re working our asses off to get there, and we’re losing people in the process. We justify it easily. We’re too busy right now. If the people in our life care about us, then they’ll stay. We’ll see them over the holidays. We’ll buy them a kick ass gift. They’ll stick by us until we’re ready for them again. If the people in your life are trying their hardest to stay with you and you’re not giving anything back? You’re going to lose them. Yes, we need to fight for people, we need to stick by the ones we love no matter what, but we also need to be fought for. There’s only so much indifference our hearts can take. We need to be loved right back.
Don’t take the people in your life for granted. Don’t stop fighting for people because you’re on your way to success and don’t want anything, or anyone, to screw up your career. Careers are always there. You can start trying for a career any day. The medical field, the music industry, the art scene – those aren’t going away any time soon. The people you have in your life – you could lose them, at any moment, if you don’t care enough to keep them with you. We have to fight for the people that we love, every single day. Let the holidays be a reminder, but not the only day. Don’t lose the ones you love. Don’t let them go. December, April, July – they are the most important thing. Happy Holidays, everyone.