I’d like to say from the outset, this article and its “next episodes” are for people who’ve become dis-enchant-ed with the “externals” of the Christmas season.
I’m not really a bah humbug sort of person, seriously I’m not. But just for the record, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us are aware that Christmas may not actually be Jesus’ birthday. It is, frankly, the very ancient pagan observance of Winter Solstice, commandeered and modified somewhere along the line by the machinations and politics of “orthodoxy”, “legalizing” Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.
I also realize that this subject is probably as off limits as discussing politics, religion, or sex openly – especially this time of year. That said, people are of course allowed to celebrate Christmas as they please. No problem.
However, I do personally observe and have experienced a lot of “ritual” involved over the course of many years. Ritual means going through specific sets of motions at specific times, with the expectation of it bringing some specific kind of outcome or result. It does’t have to be a magical or sacerdotal ritual, just repetitive, as in the annual Christmas bash and so forth. Ritual parties, ritual gift giving, ritual spending yourself silly… you can fill in the blank with your choice.
The result expected can be as simple as a happy feeling, or that “Christmas feeling”. En-chant-ing, isn’t it?
At our house we have a few low key rituals of our own. One of our ritual features is watching old Christmas classic DVDs while enjoying popcorn. It beats going to the movies – you can hit the “pause” button on the remote for bathroom breaks or refills on popcorn and drinks. During the day some quality seasonal music in several genres may be heard wafting through the air in our home. This year we’re not even putting up a tree. There are only a few small twinkling lights around the patio fences, and a lit up wreath indoors. Candles are a must any time of the year, but there are a few more than usual strategically placed.
But that’s it. Yea!
Best of all are the Christmas “programs” attended by many people. They aren’t called programs for nothing. No problem. If that floats your boat, go for it.
Apologies if this is offending anyone. I just have a different way of attending to Christmas with as little fuss as possible, greeting Christmas [and everything from All Hallows to Epiphany] with a big fat KISS: Keep It Sincerely Simple.
The animals hibernate during this time of year. Personally I like that idea a lot! God provides a kind of natural hush and restfulness all across Mother Earth and Nature this time of year. Might we do well to seek Him in the quiet, maybe even allow our bodies a little more rest than usual? Could it be that there are more hours of darkness specifically given as a little mid-Winter “Sabbath” of sorts?
The reason for addressing this is that a certain compelling “force” seems to overtake people starting around the end of October and lasts into early January. On the heels of this mass “spell” spanning about 2 months – while the animals go into natural hibernation, and darkness covers the Earth like a warm winter’s blanket, people collapse and become depressed. Many in fact experience being moderately to severely depressed even during the holidays, or “holly daze” as I prefer to call it, especially if the rituals are not “just right”.
Oops! There I went and said it: “holidays”. I’m trying to use the word “Christmas” since many are now making a hullabaloo about that terminology these days, insisting on it as being the exclusive property of Christianity, when that may not actually be the case. Something else to get over, since it may even not really be Jesus’ birthday.
Even though I’m writing this, I still feel a little squeamish doing so. In a way, it feels like lining up one’s kids and telling them, look, there really isn’t any Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, or Tooth Fairy.
I’m not saying there’s no Jesus. I know better than that, since He happens to be someone I know personally. [Yes, He always did have an odd lot of friends.] I’m just asking… where does it say that we have to celebrate His birthday on December 25 or January 6?
What I’m suggesting with all this “Annie Rooney” tone is, what if it’s OK to celebrate it without any fuss, or even not celebrate it at all?
The point is, we don’t have to make a big fuss about this time of year! Is there perhaps another choice in the modus operandi of getting through Christmas – one that might bring us closer to the Heart of God, where we can surround ourselves in His pure and peaceful light, and in essence really “hear” within our hearts the angel’s voice saying, “Fear not. For I bring you glad tidings of great joy which are for all people…”?
What if we wanted to make this time of year into a really spiritual time, without any worldly fuss at all? Could it be done? I would offer that it can be accomplished, with a number of examples and directives from God’s Word!
So if you’re bone weary with the rituals, programming, and hype this time of year, and would like to opt out for some alternatives, please come with me as we now voyage further Into The Silence!