For many years now, I’ve had mixed feelings about Christmas, and I’m asking for your patience with my honesty about them.
Until my mid-teens, I was a devout Catholic, and then Christmas was a bona fide religious holiday for me. Since I’ve lapsed, about thirty years ago, it can no longer be that way. The memory of devotion is still there, but I can’t recapture it. So my relationship to Christmas has changed.
For one thing, I no longer worship Jesus Christ. I do wish that I were better at following his teachings, though I reserve the right to reject some. But because I no longer believe in sin (good and evil are enough to cover the vagaries of the world, I think), I no longer feel a need to be saved.
People I know may have a different opinion, of course. 🙂 And they may be right.
And, of course, there’s the Jesuit saying that if they’ve got you until age seven, they’ve got you for life.
If I were to pick from among Christ’s teachings to implement in my life, I would choose “Judge not, that ye not be judged,” and the one about the speck in thy brother’s eye.
I frequently have a bad case of “speck in the other’s eye” and need to be gently reminded about the boards in my own eyes. And my husband, who is an atheist, is the best person I know at not judging others, at simply letting them be.
So for today I am simply letting Christmas be the variety of things it has been in my life—religious holiday, source of wonder, source of presents, occasion to spend time with family, the season of light (which it shares with the winter solstice), retail fantasyland and horror story, and occasion for measuring what I’ve done in my life.
If I could let it all go, I think I would simply appreciate how the earth is turning toward light and longer days and fruitfulness. I would use the solstice to go inward and evaluate how I’d done in the past year.
Someday I would like to spend the holidays at a contemplative religious retreat. That is, if they’d take me after what I’ve just said. Somewhere I could be still, and listen to my heart.
That sounds like the best kind of present to me.