Merry Chrismahanukwanzeid! And a happy New Year!
It doesn’t matter if you believe in God. It doesn’t matter if you believe in a virgin birth. And it doesn’t even matter if you believe in a jolly fat man with a distinguished red suit. The true nature of Christmas is a gift for everyone. It can’t be earned, it can’t be bought, and it certainly can’t be legislated in or out of the human spirit. Put aside the annual discussion on whether or not cities should put up nativity scenes. Take a break from bickering over what songs are okay to sing in public schools. And, don’t bother to question the connotations of saying “Merry Christmas” as opposed to “Happy Holidays”. It’s just not worth the trouble.
This is the Christmas season. It’s also the season of Hanukkah, Eid, and yes, if you prefer, even the season of Kwanza. There’s a winter solstice, and if nothing else, there is the end to the calendar year. No matter what your heritage or upbringing, throughout December, there is a plethora of sacred traditions to choose from, each and any of which are more than enough to bring a smile to your face, unless you are the staunchest of scrooge. For the Callentines it’s Christmas, the annual Christian celebration of God’s gift of love, hope, and peace for humanity, all wrapped up in a small little bundle of joy, that was ‘one size fits all’, and absolutely priceless, even though it didn’t come with a gift receipt, and the instructions weren’t written in English for another thousand years after arrival. While I do admit that our family also gets caught up in some of the secular expressions, we still try to keep the true meaning close to our hearts in all that we do. We take great pride in our own personal family traditions, right down the hanging of the “Princess Leah-Tic-Tac” ornament (don’t ask, it’s a long story) but most of all, we value our time together more than any purchased present.
By sharing this, I’m not trying to insinuate any kind of superiority of faith or tradition. At the heart of most of the seasons I mentioned above are similar calls for the same hope, joy and especially peace. By sharing my faith and feelings I’m merely trying to instill a sense of the importance that you explore yours. Tis’ the season to be happy, tis the season to feel the grace of living in a society that practices a fellowship of compassion and caring regardless of the foundation through which it was established.
Does it really matter to you how I celebrate this season? Are you the kind of person who gets upset if someone else shares the same birth date? Does their party in some way take away from yours? Just because someone acknowledges a special event does not mean you are forced to do the same, so why are so many people apprehensive about the holiday season? Maybe I’m just getting old and grumpy, but I don’t believe there is, or should never be such a thing as a modest celebration, and I sure don’t understand how some people could possibly object to people holding MORE parties or MORE festivals.
I understand that it might not be fiscally feasible for a city to have to pay for all the individual displays, but if some group wanted to put up a huge Menorah on the front lawn of city hall, I say, pass the latkes, and let’s light it up. My Pagan friends didn’t seem to mind when we horned in on the whole Halloween thing, so I’ll be damned if it’s going to bother me if someone else takes whatever they want from my religious celebration, as long as it brings them happiness. I’ll never understand why we spend so much time and effort trying to restrict the open expression of our faith and cheer and so little time trying to spread it.
You don’t have to be Christian, or Jewish, or whatever, to enjoy the month of December. All you have to be is willing to open yourself up to new experiences, willing to tolerate new practices, and best of all, willing to taste new traditions. If I offer you some Christmas cookies, I’m not trying to convert you, I’m simply trying to share some of the spirit that fills my heart, especially during this time of the year. And if you would be offended by such an offer, I highly recommend that you stay inside for the next few weeks. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!