I’ve always been a fan of Christmas, the many secular bits as well as the more religious parts. In my house, we’ve not only got the originally Victorian inspired Christmas tree with its roots in American Unitarian history, but a menorah lit for Hanukkah, and more than one cultural style of nativity crèche.
Traditional holidays with their ancient roots are bound to have morphed and reformed over the years, and it seems that Christmas is the king of this practice. Each person I talk with has her own belief system about its importance or relevance, each person has his own practices, each family has their own ways of finding comfort and meaning in the holiday, including ignoring it altogether.
In recent years I have looked for new ways to find my own December meanings, instilling more time for spiritual practice rather than consumer to-do lists, making sure I send gentle thoughts and prayers honoring family rather than particular expectations. For I know I am not alone in noting the differences and various experiences of grief that have come upon us over the years. Creating and honoring holiday traditions is a value to me, yet I’m careful not to let expectations of what “should” be get in the way. Illness and emergencies are just as apt to happen in December as they are any other time of year—I better make room to be able to drop something!
Regardless of what happens this year, I will appreciate Christmas. Not for the new outlet mall, or the holiday foodstuffs, nor for the possibility of that special gift, but for the places where I still may find the discovery in something merry and good. And that might be in the warmth of nature brought indoors, of any tradition honored or renewed, of lights kindled, of love expressed.
May you find avenues for your joy: in religious practice, in spiritual or secular activity, in the bounty of human comfort or in a small piece of silence. May you have everything merry and good.