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A conversation with a good friend the other night got me thinking.
She said she wasn’t going to get a Christmas tree this year—wasn’t going to bother. It was too much work, and for what? She wasn’t feeling the Christmas spirit, or anything really, so “why Christmas?”
It was an interesting question, given how stressful this time of year is for so many.
I searched my brain for answers, and this is what I found:
Why Christmas? (Or Hanukkah, Diwali, or the winter solstice?)
To celebrate the approaching end of long, cold nights. We wait with lights to guide the sun, the Son, the gods, the Messiah, the shepherds, wise men, our friends, neighbors, and family back to our homes again.
To honor the sacred: that which returns life to a cold, colorless wintry landscape. We wait with an ancient, primitive faith, and with hope that this winter will indeed end, as all others have before.
To open our hearts to the miracle of love: the connections we have with each other, as friends, family, neighbors, mentors, angels, passers-by, whose smiles warm us throughout the cold days and long nights. We connect to our ancestors through memories and stories, knowing that they too lit the candles for the shepherds and the sun, and to our progeny, to whom we pass on the ancestral gifts through our traditions.
To bring to the surface our appreciation of those who touch our souls, who give us moments of joy and laughter, a sense of peace and calm, and who make us feel safe in a scary, chaotic world.
And we thank them for this with the exchange of gifts.
No matter what nonsense goes on among the capricious inhabitants of our planet, we are reminded of our insignificance in the broader universal reality, which is at the same time mysterious and fundamentally reliable.
Seasons come and go, the world turns, and we sail around the sun pretty much according to the clock and the calendar. In this, there is comfort.
And this, whether we call it Christmas (or Hanukkah, Diwali, or the winter solstice), is worth celebrating.