In putting together my thoughts for this wordy lead up to Christmas I need to explain that I come from a Christian/spiritual place. For me the "reason for the season" is not just an overused slogan, it is the heart and soul of the holiday. Not that the festive flair, decorations, and gift giving isn't a nice addition. I like falderall as much as the next person - maybe more than that person who was honking at us to get out of the parking spot a full 2 seconds faster than we were moving.
Yet, I still regard these days leading up to the big event as anticipatory and exciting in a churchy kind of way. Somehow in the midst of all the running around and madness, I always get to feeling rather introspective.
Whether you are a Christian or not. Whether you believe in the Virgin Birth or not. Whether you believe in angels or not, I think there is still a place for the Bethlehem story in our lives. For it is a story of hope and love. It is a story of people giving to others, whether it be outrageous gifts like gold and incence or simply a room in a stable so a poor family could rest. It is a time to stop, reflect and embrace the kind of deeply felt peace that might change the world. For just as in the days of Herod the king, our world is sorely in need of change.
Christmas may be the best known and most over the top of holiday, but some kind of mid-winter festival has been celebrated for ages. The Winter Solstice, for example, occurs on the shortest day or longest night of the year. Around the globe different cultures celebrate a holiday on or about the winter solstice. Interpretation of the event varies from culture to culture, but most hold a recognition of rebirth, involving festivals, rituals or other celebrations. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years, and other festivals of light are just a few.
Every culture, it seems, has some kind of observance of the rebirth of light and hope, even if it is simple a celebration of the sun's (son's?)victory of darkness. Winter days begin to get longer and the sun begins to take the chill out of the air, one degree at a time. Peeking their heads out of a cave or snow drift, even the animals seem to declare "all's right with the world."
So, whether you believe as I do that the birth of the Christ child is reason enough to celebrate, or if you just like the idea of giving and receiving gifts for no other reason than to say "I love you," Christmas is a good way to end one year and push us into a new one full of resolve to do it better in the next.
My posts will undoubtedly have a Christian/spiritual bent to them, but don't let that turn you off. Hopefully, I will touch on something you can relate to. And again, my point is not to preach, but to make the season more meaningful somehow, and less hectic. Hopefully we'll make it to the end of the year in one piece full of the perfect peace.
Kamgan Ukudigaa (Merry Christmas - Aleut)