When I was but a wee lad, my father would often say that “every day is Christmas” when the holiday season rolled around. In my youth, I did not understand what he meant. There were no daily presents, no Christmas specials being aired year-round, no tree that stayed up beyond New Year’s, and it was back to school once the two weeks of winter break were over. It was not until recently that I truly realized what my father meant, and how this principle applies to life.

Every Day is Special, and No Day is Special

Some people tell us to live each day as if it were our last. This conflicts with the sensible approach of planning for the future, but they do have a point. We never know when our time will come to leave this plane of existence, so while we are here, we should make the most of the time that we do have. Do not wait until the holidays or special days to show appreciation for your loved ones, but instead show appreciation through your daily actions.

This also applies to actions that we would take to show appreciation to ourselves. No, I am not saying to treat yourself to a decadent triple latte like some Sex and the City character or overweight feminist blogger, but I am encouraging you to build yourself daily. Why wait until New Year’s Day to make your resolutions when you know that you need to change your habits immediately?

Do not hesitate when it comes to taking actions that will improve your lot in life. Even if you do not perish, opportunities are not guaranteed to always be available, so they should be pounced upon whenever possible. Do not wait until a holiday to talk to that cute girl; talk to her now if you get the chance to. Do not get caught up in holiday sales that generally aren’t good deals and waste your time in line; get what you need when you need it and can afford it.

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Utilize Each Day to the Fullest

Yes, Christmas and other holidays are days off from work, but the work that you must do towards your own personal development does not stop when you clock out. Too many of us use these days to be slothful or engage only in leisure activities. Of course, it is great to enjoy yourself and to enjoy your time off, but the world will keep moving on, leaving you behind.

We should do something to improve ourselves each and every day that we are allotted. Holidays are some of the better days to develop ourselves, actually, since we do not have to worry about clocking in for our bosses. Instead, we can spend that extra hour at the gym (if it’s closed, we can go for a run or do calisthenics), read a few chapters in a book, catch up on articles on various websites, and so on.

This is something that the advertisers and retailers know. Advertisements do not stop for the holidays; in fact, they ramp up. If businesses can do it, then why can’t we? The grind never stops. Even when you are sleeping, your body is recuperating and repairing so that it can take on the next day. Just because it is Christmas, Kwanzaa, Golden Week, the Dragon Boat Festival, Fat Shaming Week, or even Christian Love Day doesn’t mean that the world comes to a standstill, so we shouldn’t either.

Holidays are Losing Their Luster

Okay, this probably isn’t what my father meant, but it is something that I have been noticing. Maybe I have just become a humbug after becoming an adult, maybe it is a shift in cultural trends, or maybe it is a combination of these factors. But based on what I have been seeing, western holidays seem to have lost their meaning.

For most people that I know, holidays are just days where they don’t have to go to work, or have to run around from store to store spending hours of their time and dipping into their savings to purchase decorations and gifts. This really hit home when I spent Christmas in Japan a few years back and noticed all of the Christmas decorations in a country where less than one percent of the population claims to adhere to the religion of Christianity.

Christmas these days is just another aspect of western culture that the Japanese people find “cool” to follow, I suppose, and another way for international companies to make more money. As a side note, it is also a great day to pick up in Japan.

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No matter where we are or what set of holidays are celebrated in our countries, we should seek to develop ourselves constantly, show appreciation to the people in our lives that deserve it every day, not overindulge in consumerism or sloth, and not wait until designated special days to make necessary changes in our lives. Happy holidays to you and yours, and remember to stay on the grind.

Read More: The Holidays: Amateur Nights on Steroids