Jay-Z Wants You To Enjoy the Holidays

Here are five ways to find peace during the holidays before the end of the year

What’s goody, readers? Joel Leon here, your friendly neighborhood storyteller, slowly wrapping up what has been a rollercoaster of a year with the second-to-last weekly “What Would Hov Do?” Medium column. Still out here, taking the latest and greatest of your woes and helping you get through it all with the help of the one of the greatest scribes of generation, Sir Jay-Z.

If there’s an issue you’re struggling with: dealing with a breakup, financial trouble, style questions, loss of a job or loved one, can’t find your rescue cat, we got you. Drop your question here and high-key me and Jay-Z gonna help you solve it (or at least give you a nice talking point for your next Zoom call.)

With the holidays approaching, I decided to do something different. Rather than answer a question from the reading audience, I’ve decided to use the oft used listicle format to help y’all get through a season of caroling without karate chopping your grandma for her political views. I’ve chosen five Jay Z lyrics that I think will help give us all a little clarity and direction heading into what will be for many of us a stress ridden and new kind of holiday celebration.

1.“Don’t plan to leave without a fight, I plant a seed, I give life” — Jay-Z “Lucky Me”

We are all struggling in our ways. We are all fighting through something. But in the lyric pulled from Hov’s “Lucky Me” track featured on the In My Lifetime Vol. 1 album, Jay-Z allows us to reimagine the struggle as bigger than just our plight, but a seed that can potentially give life to a new opportunity, a new way to imagine how we engage with the difficult spaces in our lives.

The holidays will be hard for a lot of us, especially those who may be around family and/or friends that may trigger us. “Fighting” through it doesn’t have to rely solely on arguing, or physically confronting our issues, but the fight also gets to be a seed of peace, or forgiveness and love as we try to give new life to the situations that have scarred us.

2. “Yo, I’m making short term goals, when the weather folds” — Jay-Z “Can’t Knock the Hustle”

The holidays and new year got us looking at the long term wants and needs as the end-all, be-all for the road ahead. Hov is telling us to not forget those short term goals. Sometimes, it’s as simple as deciding “Tonight, I won’t argue with my uncle at the dinner table” or “I’m going to breathe and walk away when I feel upset by something or someone.” This lyric from “Can’t Knock the Hustle”, the lead single off of the Reasonable Doubt album is all about focusing on the low-hanging fruit — if we can handle the things that are directly in front of us, we may be more apt to handle the long term goals and issues around the corner. This holiday, let’s focus on short term wins, even if that is celebrating getting out of bed, getting dressed, and being good to yourself.

3. “In trouble waters I had to learn how to float” — Jay-Z “Oceans”

This year has maybe gotten the better of us. In many respects, we’ve had to unlearn things and relearn new things, to make sure we don’t drown in the sea of unexpectedness that has rocked us about. With this “Oceans” lyric from Jay’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail album, he’s giving us game with the water and swimming references as a metaphor for how we get to prevail in spite of the sea of trouble surrounding us. The holidays can sometimes bring those issues right to our doorstep. We’ve had to make sure sharp pivots, and teach ourselves how to swim in these new waters. This year has not been normal for us. Some of those feelings may come to a head, whether we’re celebrating the holiday alone, with family, or not celebrating the holiday at all. For the days ahead, it’s going to be important for us to remain fluid, and to give ourselves the space and freedom to teach ourselves new tricks in order to survive.

4. “Unless you was me, how could you judge me?” — Jay-Z “Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)”

None of us are alike. And some of us will be making decisions this holiday, whether it be staying home or traveling to see friends and family, that may come with its own share of grief, shame, or guilt. In this “Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)” bar off The Blueprint album, Jay is telling us to leave the judgment at the door. Let’s remind people to be safe, to take the precautions they need to keep themselves and others healthy, but let’s be mindful and kind when having conversations surrounding how folx are choosing to spend the holidays. Just last month, the CDC has stated that one in four young adults have struggled with suicidal thoughts since the pandemic arrived. Less judgment and more grace is the medicine we’re going to need in order to get through this season together.

5. “Nobody wins when the family feuds” — Jay-Z “Family Feud”

We’re not always going to get along with the people we love: family, friends and colleagues. Granted, a difference in opinion over parallel parking or debating the art of Madea films is way different than someone voting for another four years of misogyny and racism, but I digress. In the “Family Feud” lyric from 4:44 Hovito proclaims, if we’re not getting along nobody wins. And that includes chosen family just the same. Now, this doesn’t mean agreement for the sake of appeasement or peace if there is a difference in values. But it does mean we get let go of grudges and resentment. We get to choose to make amends withe ones we love.

Word to Hov.

For the newbies out there, feel free to get familiar with some of my previous Medium work here. And here. Oh, and here, too. Submit any WWHD questions here while you’re at it.

he/him. @tedtalks giver. @EBONYmag / @medium writer. @frankwhiteco . creative. @taylorstrategy senior copywriter. @thecc_nyc 21’ class. @twloha board. #BRONX

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