Congratulations! You survived the Holidays! Including the most infamous of Holidays: Christmas. Infamous for being known for Good Cheer, yet the reality of long lines at the Mall are anything but Cheery. Infamous for being known as the Holiday that celebrates family, yet if you work at a drive-thru window on Christmas, you will see plenty of faces of those who are heading into their own personal hell. It’s written all over their faces.
Christmas doesn’t feel the same for me as it did when I was 20 and by then it didn’t feel like it did when I was half that age! When I was 10 I had two brothers and a ring of cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and one amazing great-grandmother. When I was in my early 20’s I had one brother and the extended family, but I was less inclined to enjoy family functions at that age, happier to go dancing with friends. And now I’m 44 and its Mom and Dad; both brothers witnessing the events in their own ways from the other side of the veil. Family spread between California, Hawaii, Montana and Colorado makes extended family holidays challenging to say the least.
Beyond the obvious changes in my personal family life that have created a different Christmas experience for me, it goes far beyond that.
When I first discovered there was controversy around the actual birth date of Jesus, I found it impossible to gracefully accept that while Christians were insulted that people were “taking the Christ out of Christmas”, the fact is, December 25th is very likely not his actually birthday at all! (If you don’t believe there is any controversy, I suggest entering “Jesus birth date” into a search engine!) As I was discovering that I had been a Pagan all my life and simply didn’t know it, I realized how right it felt to me: this idea that the Church had taken the Winter Solstice and the Spiritual meaning associated with the Solar and Earth cycles; turning the return of the Sun into the Return of the Son.
Still, I continued to celebrate Christmas as I always had: with family, with friends and with festive lights and decorations filling the house.
I don’t remember when I first thought to myself “I wonder when they’ll bring Christmas out into stores before Halloween?” but I know this was the year I was able to answer “In 2011” I know it isn’t just me who has noticed, but Christmas has become this mutated retail event that stretches the excitement, joy, lights and excitement of that once magical time between the day after Thanksgiving and December 24th into a two and a half month marathon of sell! Sell! Sell! At some point, it began really bothering me that Christmas wasn’t staying in its allotted time-slot. I wanted to slap anyone who plugged lights in before Thanksgiving and I wanted to keep earplugs handy to block Christmas music that was being forced upon me before that Official start of Christmas: the day AFTER Thanksgiving.
A few years ago it reached such a point of disgust for me I began ignoring the whole process as much as possible. At least I have been cleansed of most, if not all, of my resentment towards a religion that at times has the audacity to believe Jesus is the ONLY reason to celebrate this time of year. (Don’t get me started on the whole idea of him being the only path to Enlightenment or God) It goes so much deeper than that and I, along with most Pagans, am more than happy to welcome the light of Jesus and his generous, loving heart into my own heart. He is a beautiful symbol of Love and Light to accompany the return of our Sun! It’s not Jesus I have a problem accepting, it’s his stubborn and misinformed followers I have a problem with.
Luckily, I along with millions of other human beings, are feeling this wonderful shift in humanity: towards living a life of meaning through a spiritual connection to our life-giving mother: Earth. Towards accepting with love those who are different: whether it be gender, sexual orientation, religion, culture or place of birth: because we are all Human. So, it seems fitting that this was the year I truly celebrated my first Winter Solstice and Yule with friends who also find it comforting to find new ways to celebrate this season. Not to mention finding new reasons for celebrating this season once again.
In honor of the Spirit of the season, I did my part to lighten the world up a little on Christmas by going to work with braids wired above my head with festive green and red decorations. I brought laughter and smiles to many faces, and only one single customer refused to look me in the eye in order to preserve her air of grump. As I left the building, a group of customers hollered out to me “Merry Christmas Cindy Loo Who!” and I gleefully wished them a Merry Christmas back, with honest joy.
This season, especially, is yours to create in whatever way brings you lightness of heart, joy of spirit and connection to Family; be they blood family or spirit family. I hope the return of the Sun/Son warms you as we enjoy the calm of winter.