Cheer to all Whos, far and near.
Christmas Day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to grasp.
Christmas Day will always be
Just as long as we have we.
Welcome Christmas while we stand
Heart to heart and hand in hand.
from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
This Christmas was different. This year, as a family, we decided to question all our rituals around the holidays and keep what had meaning for us, and bring new rituals in that reflect our lives today.
In my family we have more than one faith path going. My daughter has begun to explore Wiccan seriously, and as many of you know, I took my vows for the Buddhist path last July. My mother is an active Anglican. My husband is recovering from a Baptist upbringing and keeps a healthy gap between himself and ‘organized religion’ whenever possible. My son? A consumer to the end.
What is this Christian themed, consumer hijacked, pagan solstice, and Mayan calendar event to my family today?
My family is on many different roads looking for meaning in this life and that alone would have made us question the rituals and traditions we have, but that wasn’t the only thing that made this Christmas different. Life’s contribution was the sudden and unexpected death of my father from a ‘massive coronary event’, as the coroner described it, last summer. This would be our first Christmas without my Dad. We have lived close to my parents for the last 8 years and we have enjoyed my Mom and Dad and their thrill of the watching the children’s Santa induced high every December 25th. But not this year.
What is Christmas to me now? I haven’t really liked it for several years now. I have felt bullied by the rituals and the expectations, and the spending, and joy had certainly gone AWOL.
This year felt like the year I could reclaim Christmas. I could look at it and take into account every member of this family and make a holiday that we all wanted to celebrate. To do this, I made my family meet (if you have one, you will understand that discussing how you will celebrate holidays doesn’t happen through invitation, it is a mandatory discussion if you want it to happen at all) and talk about what traditions and rituals we wanted to keep and what new things would have meaning for us. My 13-year-old son didn’t see why we’d change anything. It works, right? And we’re still getting presents, right? My daughter, 15, had some Wiccan/Pagan rituals she had researched and she suggested a ceremonial Yule log burning. I had researched the pagan holly and the ivy connections, so suggested a garden in the house with those plants to welcome good luck fairies. At the core, the discussion was about what would we do that had meaning for us otherwise why would we do anything? It came as a great awakening to my son that while he thought the pagan version of solstice was far fetched, he really had never stopped to consider the stretch of thinking in the Virgin birth story. One car ride to Grandma’s was all it took for us to come up with a new set of rituals for Christmas.
Here is what Christmas looked like at my house. We went to my moms Church Cantata to honor her faith path with the Anglican church; we had the Yule log, fairy garden and a greenery display for the Wiccan and Pagan paths; I brought the idea of ‘uplifting’ our space and our experiences this time of the year from the Buddhist path and ritualistically cleaned and organized the house over the holidays. My husband felt there was time and space to reflect and appreciate the end of darkness and the coming of the light with solstice. My son will tell you he got every thing he wanted for Christmas, so his current path of consumerism is alive and well.
What was the point of all this? Why expend all this energy and ask all these questions?
What I learned this Christmas was that rituals matter. I just wanted rituals to have meaning for me. I didn’t want to sleep walk through anything, or do something because it was what we always did. As a family, I asked us to stop and evaluate the worth of what we were doing. This Christmas, I noticed what had meaning for me and what didn’t, and I took conscious steps to be fully present in what we celebrated. I didn’t resent Christmas this year, and it didn’t tire me out. Instead, I have exited the season feeling quietly fulfilled.
It has made me wonder:
Where else in my life am I just going through the motions?
Where in my life do I need new rituals and traditions?
What old ways of being no longer are needed?
New Tradition-Instead of a real Christmas tree, we had this decorative metal ‘tree that came pre-decorated. We added the tags which I called Christmas Wish Tags. I had a stations set up by the tree and everyone in my house and anyone who visited was invited to make a wish for another person and hang it on the tree. As part of our New Years we read these wishes aloud and sent them out into the ether with hope for a great year to come!
It is my intention to post regularly these Noticing blogs, where I will reflect on what’is coming thorugh my life. The longer I coach people, the more I find that what is coming through my life is coming through many lives and I believe there is power in sharing. If you feel called to it, I would love to hear about your thoughts or what is coming through your life. Comment here, or email me.