True Holiday Spirit (Beyond Commercial Hallmark & Confused History)
Let me just put down my Peppermint Mocha, pause Michael Buble and shake the glitter out of my hair before I make a not so shocking announcement for anyone here that may not know me.
I LOVE CHRISTMAS.
Seriously. I love everything about it. I love it so much that I would decorate on November 1st if I could. Papa Bear is a military veteran, so we hold off on decorating until after Remembrance Day out of respect.
I love the music. The ornaments. The food. The gift exchanges. The shopping for the gifts. The wrapping of the gifts. The excuse to connect with people you shouldn’t really need an excuse for, but the other 365 days of the year are just so dang busy. Not that the holiday season is less busy...
I love the way the trees look covered in a fresh snowfall. I love the snowmen, and the scarves and the mitts. I love the chunky knit sweaters and the cuddling by the fire in comfy socks. I even love waiting in line to see Santa.
Fingers crosses Baby Bear does as well this round as she did last year.
I love the lights and the music -even after working retail for almost a decade. I love it all. And because of this, I quite easily get swept up in the whole circus and tend to forget what we’re really supposed to be celebrating here.
Religious or not, you most likely celebrate Christmas, or a form of it during this holiday season. It feels like Christmas has been around FOREVER. And in one form or another, it has. Long before Charles Dickens instilled the holiday in our hearts and minds with the magic of family and presents and snow, the Puritans banned the holiday thanks to a bunch of Roman’s that knew how to have (maybe too much of) a good time. Prior to the Roman’s and the church setting the groundwork for the Christmas we know today, the Pagans celebrated the Winter Solstice.
Much debate has gone on in regards to December 25th being the day Christ was born, or if in fact the Church twisted the words in the bible in order to ‘take over’ the pagan holiday in an attempt to wipe out the celebration they deemed less holy. Some say it was the other way around. What we know for sure is it all happened a super duper long time ago. And at the end of the day, I’m just going to say it...who really cares?
It doesn’t matter who’s right or who’s wrong, about any of it. Believe what you want to believe in; whatever speaks to your soul. Maybe you are celebrating the birth of Christ this year. Or the Pagan Winter Solstice; Yule. Or you prefer to light a Menorah. Or something else entirely.
Metaphor time, because I love a good metaphor almost as much as I love Baby It’s Cold Outside.
There are many ways to cook a chicken, but in the end it’s always delicious. (Unless burnt, obviously.) The holiday season is no different because we are all celebrating the same thing at its very core.
We are celebrating light. The literal return of light, as the days begin to grow longer following the shortest day of the year, and the upcoming dawn of a new year. (In 2019’s case- a new decade.) We connect with one another and we rejoice. We sing. We feast. We exchange trinkets and treasures. We are one, or at least we should be.
In my home, Christmas time is a very inclusive time. We have a tree. It has lights and ornaments. There are presents beneath it. I light a menorah because it speaks to me and brings me joy. No one else really gets it, but it means something special to me. A few friends and I may get together this year and do a few traditions in honour of Yule. But whatever name we use to label what we are doing, we know we’re doing it surrounded by love, goodwill, compassion, thanks, and light.
The origins of why we do the things that we do around the holidays are interesting to know, but they do not need to divide us. The Christmas Tree for example is originally a pagan symbol. Trees were brought into the home to invite the wood spirits to stay warm and be fed by the ornaments. Most of which back then were made of food. Bells were hung to signal when a spirit arrived in the home. And the star on top was symbolic of the five elements.
It’s a fun fact that can inspire you or interest you, or you can simply ignore it and decorate your plastic Walmart tree and get on with your life if that’s what you choose. There is no right or wrong when it comes to celebrating. The best way to celebrate is with love and joy in your heart. If that means leaving the cold and snow behind for a beach house in Mexico, go for it. Or a ski chalet in the mountains. Or a cozy spot in front of your fireplace. Or volunteering at a kitchen or shelter. Donating old books and toys. Decorating a tree. Singing songs. Handing out gifts. Hosting a ugly sweater party or a cookie exchange.
The options are literally endless. It’s time we accept the beauty of diversity in our holidays and embrace the beliefs of others. We don’t have to agree with them or adopt them as our own. But we can respect others, just as we hope they would respect us. After all, every holiday and every religion was just created out of nowhere one day. So who’s to say you cannot create your own or celebrate and believe on your own terms?
-Mama Bear 🐻