You will note that I have not said I lick of verbiage about Christmas. What kind of Christian am I, anyway? Did I give up Christmas for Advent? 🙂
I don’t give up holidays… I collect them. The Jewish gent I’d dated seriously for 5 years celebrated both. Arguably he was “Hollywood Jewish” as they say in Hedrick,Texas. [That’s the massive, county-sized Orthodox Jewish community near Fort Worth.]
Though he’s long gone, I still miss the festive menorah. I liked his grandparents. They were such charming people who were brilliant at hospitality. Keeping alive the peripheral positives keeps the doldrums away in my experience.
Then there were all those Yule celebrations I used to go to with my pagan friends– but many of those were clearly nostalgic for Christmas– except, you know, sky-clad. But despite the fact that I could personally volunteer for the polar bear club– the whole nudity thing in winter is just a bit too hard core for me. I still say modesty has some use, like not freezing in uncomfortable places during snow ball fights. This is why I prefer Chicago to New York. Pragmatism has it’s upsides in civil administration.
At any rate, while I don’t literally celebrate all of them, I do tend to visit my friends and family a great deal during this time. It’s kind of a requirement, because otherwise I’d never see them. So I sacrifice my time and treasure for that sense of being connected in this hectic and unforgiving world.
Sure the presents are a rat race, the fruitcake is too sweet, the tinsel and blinding color are in your face– maybe offensive to some. But, it’s a welcome break, an excuse to party, and a time to remember that it’s all not just about yourself. I think all that is worth it– even for that.
Orthodox and/or Traditional Catholics will start screaming at me that I haven’t mentioned the birth of Our Savior yet. That’s true. But I’m hoping that we can create an “on-ramp of Christmas”, that is, recognize the secular virtues of the holiday first. Why? Because even those seem to be slipping away. All anybody talks about are the downsides of those secular joys that we determinedly celebrate every year. That is a disservice to the holiday– even the secular parts of it.
Christ was all about bringing people together, enjoying each other’s company, and giving up what you have for others. So stop playing Martha. That goes for you determined holiday revelers, too. Make sure you take time to sit back, sip some mulled wine/ apple cider/egg nog/holiday beverage of choice, and truly interact– with those people you are related to, those friends you don’t visit, and those elder folk in particular who may be staying in nursing homes. Give something of yourself.
That is, make it your personal mission to bring some cheer– even if it’s low-key– for 20 minutes to an hour– to those you’ve been neglecting lately. So, what’s one more gluten free cookie tray?
With all the nasty violence and anger and hurt and pain that’s going on out there right now, we need to value our families while they are here, and find a way to dwell in the love we feel for them, rather than our fear, resentment, or forced sense of duty.
Talk about a gift worthy of the Savior Himself. (click on it to see the icon’s glorious detail!)
PS. Speaking of Christmas, I won’t be posting until the 27th. Stuff may still appear here, but I can’t make any promises. It might just be cute kitties and other silly nonsense.