Between the constant travel, the drain on finances from having to buy all the gifts, worrying about making that big Holiday dinner, and the in-laws that not only nag you for your pipe smoking but also continue to ask you when you’re going to get a “real” job, it’s understandable that the Holiday season often leaves a lot of people wanting to set more than their tobacco ablaze. I believe that, in a lot of ways, the Holiday season has lost it’s true meaning over the last couple of decades due to the over commercialization and frantic need to have the latest and greatest material things. I, for one, don’t get caught up in the “mad dash.” All my shopping was done a few days after Halloween. My time with the in-laws will be minimal. I have given out my list of all my desired pipe and tobacco related goodies, and even if I only get a few of them, I am OK with that. In these days leading up to the Holidays, everyone around me is running amok, trying to finish everything “last minute” and get everything wrapped and cooked and ready to go. Me? I’m sitting back with my pipe, quietly chuckling to myself, and thinking about the meaning of the Holiday.
The Holiday season is supposed to be a time for being thankful for what you have, and for being around the ones you love and care about the most. I think that in a lot of ways, the hobby of pipe smoking has allowed me to cut down on the amount of stress I feel during the season(who says that there is no positive effect of nicotine?!), but it has also made me realize a few things about human nature and what the Holidays really mean to me.
As a general rule, pipe smokers are some of the most laid back people on Earth. I think part of this is because mastering the art of smoking and enjoying a pipe takes a certain amount of patience and practice, and if you don’t have that patience and aren’t willing to put in that practice, odds are, you are not going to stick with the hobby. I also believe that there is a far greater degree of patience that is required for the Holiday season. What gift will you buy for this person? Will this person like it? Did you buy enough food to cook for everyone? Did you over cook it? Did you undercook it? Is Uncle Howard getting drunk and telling everyone that story of how your wife ran away the day before the wedding? Geez, it’s no wonder people get stressed out this time of year. I have found that this Holiday season, pipe smoking has helped me to practice patience in all areas of my life, and that patience helped me to step back, look at my Holiday plan, have everything done early, and gave me more time to enjoy my pipe. I also remembered not to invite Uncle Howard to dinner this year.
And don’t think that I am trying to downplay the role of giving and sharing in the Holiday season. The sad reality is that there are people out there who have it way worse than we do, and we should keep all those people in our thoughts and prayers. I have taken part in a few different Secret Santa projects through various internet pipe groups, and it is quite an experience. I have also seen fellow pipe smokers who are gifting tobaccos and pipes to those less fortunate than themselves and those who are having tough times during the Holidays. I think that sharing our pipes and sharing tobaccos with one another and even maybe helping a newbie smoker out with advice, tobacco samples, and maybe basic supplies is a good way to not only enrich our lives and make not only us feel better, but give newbie smokers a good impression of who we are as a community, and is a small way of reaffirming the “Holiday spirit.”
So what exactly am I meditating on here, you might ask? Well, as we all know, the Holidays are a frantic time for all of us, and we will never completely alleviate the stress that comes with this time of the year. There are a lot of us who like to kick back, perhaps with some good music or good television, light up a bowl of good tobacco, and let the worries of the world melt away for a while, lost in the taste and aroma and sensation and ritual of a good tobacco. I think that this Holiday season, we should use our pipes as a tool to not only help us beat the stress that we all feel, but also a parallel to remind us how to be more patient in our lives and more patient with the season. Plan ahead. Get organized. Put in for time off work. We should also let our nature as pipe smokers help to make us better people. Share a pipe or share tobacco with a fellow smoker who is down on his or her luck. Or even if you have friends who don’t smoke, do a good deed for them. Help shovel their driveway. Send them a card and some cash. Or just let them know that you are thinking of them this Holiday season.
This community is filled with some of the greatest people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and if we all do our part, we can not only greatly reduce the stress that we feel this time of year but can help make the season more joyful and uplifting for other people in our lives, and if we can achieve that, we will be doing better than most. A lot of people may have lost their way these last few years and forgotten what the true meaning of the Holiday season is, but if we can let our pipes enrich our lives and continue to be the great, kind, generous people that we are all known for being, then we may yet restore the true meaning of the Holidays. So light up your pipe. Kick back. Share your tobacco and share a pipe or anything else you have to share. Eat way too much at that big dinner. Laugh at the in-laws, even if their jokes really aren’t all that funny. But most importantly, don’t let the Holiday season get you down, and more importantly, enjoy the Holidays, and enjoy your pipes.