would like to wish everyone a
Happy Winter Solstice and 2012 Holiday Season
may peace, understanding and awakening be yours in 2013!
A Catalyst for Creative Writing
I don’t know about you, but this time of the year can be stressful for anyone who celebrates the season. In fact, there are days when I feel that Ebenezer Scrooge had it right before the spirits ever got a hold of him, particularly the part where he tells the gentlemen collecting for the poor that “I wish to be left alone!”
Just think of all of the things that you are ‘expected’ to do. There is the holiday decorating and the baking, the gift buying and wrapping and party planning. Then there are the concerts and end of school performances and recitals and drama productions and work parties and neighborhood celebrations, church celebrations and the addressing of about a million greeting cards and all of this in the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
With so much to do and so little time to do it in (not to mention even less time to actually kick back and relax) is it any wonder why so many people get so stressed out?
Here is a question for you. With all the expectations attached to the holiday season, is it possible to live authentically; to be exactly whom and what you are in spite of everything that you are expected to do?
The answer, of course, is yes.
No, this doesn’t mean that you have to become a Scrooge and lock yourself away behind walls of cynicism for the duration of the holiday season. What it does mean is that you take a good hard look at those responsibilities and activities that you have agreed to take part in and ask yourself whether or not they bring you joy.
If they DO bring you joy, then by all means keep them! Yes, I know that baking four dozen cupcakes for your child’s end of school winter holiday party may not be a joyful experience in and of itself, but the look on their face when you walk into their classroom with the cupcakes may be worth every moment you spent in the kitchen.
On the other hand, if you find yourself dreading the very thought of attending one more Messiah sing along, then don’t go! There is nothing that says that you have to say yes to every invitation issued during this time of the year. There is nothing that says that you have to bake all of your sugar cookies from scratch. There is nothing that says that you have to reciprocate every gift you receive with another of equal or greater value.
What it takes is weighing each agreement that you make; every invitation that you accept against how much joy it will bring into your life.
Does that sound selfish? Perhaps in a way it is. After all, at this time of the year especially we are encouraged to think of others first; to put our own wants and needs aside in order to provide for the needs and wants of others. But what never fails to astonish me is how anyone can expect that a person can keep giving and giving without every running out of energy. It can’t be done.
In order to care for others we must first take care of ourselves, and one of the most effective ways to do this is to pay attention to our joy. If everything that we do comes from our heart and brings us joy and happiness then each thing that we do for others – which we WANT to do for others – each thing we do for someone else that brings us joy will be magnified tenfold.
It won’t be how much we do, but the quiet intent; the joy inherent that will fill up our lives, and our hearts this holiday season and every day of the year to come.
Christmas is in the air. The houses are decked out with twinkle lights and the stores are packed with shoppers scrambling for last minute Christmas gifts. There are ornaments on the trees and wreathes on the doors. We talk of Santa and reindeer and sleigh rides and serve up eggnog and fruitcake to our guests while we enjoy Christmas music on the radio. But what are we doing? More to the point; why are we doing it?
There are those who celebrate Christmas purely as a secular holiday, a time to get together with friends and family and exchange gifts and go to parties, and then there are those who celebrate the sister holiday of Hanukkah, which is the Jewish celebration of lights in honor of the re-dedication of the second temple in the 2nd century B.C.E. and still others that celebrate it as the time when Jesus Christ was born; when Mary and Joseph went to answer the call of Caesar to be counted and Mary gave birth to her son in a stable because there was no room in the Inn.
You have to admit that the Christmas story of Jesus being born in the stable and worshiped by Sheppard’s and wise men is a wonderful story; a bit inaccurate as to timing and details mind you (temperatures in the Middle East can be extremely cold during the winter and shepherds kept their flocks tucked well away in sheep pens or folds during the nights of the coldest time of the year, not to mention the fact that there is historical evidence that Jesus was actually born in September, not December) but still wonderful for all of that; a story full of hope and inspiration as is the old Pagan celebration of Yule, the twelve day celebration (from whence we get our “12 Days of Christmas” stories) whose focal point is Solstice Night, the longest night of the year; the night when the sun (in the form of the Oak or Sun King – the Giver of Life) is “reborn” and grows day by day to fulfill the promise of life-giving warmth.
When Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire it only made logical sense to adapt local holidays and give them a Christian twist so that more individuals would be brought into the fold. Hence the rebirth of the Oak King became the birth of Jesus, the evergreen branches used by the Celts to represent the eternal aspect of the Divine in each of us became the Christmas trees and wreathes that we bring into our homes every December and the Mistletoe which in Christian lore represents the love the conquers death was to the Druids the seed of the Divine and a necessary part of the ritual to re-birth the sun and the candles of Hanukkah work their way into the festivals of light celebrated in Christian Churches.
Everywhere you see the symbolism; the connections between the old traditions and the new. But one thing that the Pagan and Christian and Judaic traditions have in common is the fact that all of the mid-December traditions celebrate a time of rebirth and renewal and a time to celebrate the year gone by and prepare for the year to come, and what better way to do this than to rid yourself of all of the negativity that has accumulated in your life over the last year?
Take a look at your life; at those physical objects that you have incorporated into your world for whatever reason. Look closely at those ideas, beliefs, traditions and relationships that have become a part of you and ask yourself whether or not they reflect the highest representation of who and what you truly are; if they serve to help you live a soul-full and authentic life. If not, use this next week; this Yule week between the Solstice and New Year’s to purge your life of everything that could possibly be holding you back.
So regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas or Yule or Hanukkah, or simply view this as a nice holiday and a chance to take some time off of work; why not take advantage of the season? Go ahead, claim the promise of rebirth and renewal in your own life; in your own heart; and as the days begin once more to lengthen, celebrate the year to come and everything that it has to offer.
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