The phrase “the holidays” has many, many different meanings. We can be talking about Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, and probably others that I don’t even know about. This time of year is often known as a time when people are more joyful and festive, and that is even somewhat so during this weird, Covid holiday season.
Now, as I’m sure you know, sometimes folks get very upset by the holiday greeting that they either receive or don’t receive. And since the media is very Christmas-heavy, other traditions may feel left out in the cold. And that’s a shame. Because there is beauty and love in all of the traditions. And much like when we look at the bare bones of religions (believe in something bigger than yourself and be kind and loving to others), here with the end-of-the-year traditions, the messages are all pretty consistent.
This time of year is about miracles. In a super brief nutshell, we have, with Christmas, the birth of Jesus by the Virgin Mary which is honored by the lighting of the four Advent candles that symbolize hope, love, joy and peace. In Hanukkah, we celebrate freedom from a tyrant king and how a small quantity of oil to light the Temple’s menorah miraculously lasted eight days. The seven candles of Kwanzaa represent unity, self-determination, cooperative economics, creativity, collective work and responsibility, purpose, and faith. While celebrating the Winter Solstice, we use more candles and burn a Yule log. And to be quite frank, these all sound just so lovely and so beautiful.
So, now I’m going to say something pretty risky here. Ready?
Why does one group believe that their traditions and their belief structure is the only right one? Does that seem logical? I mean really, does it seem like there is only one right way to do anything outside of being thoughtful of others? Has that held true for anything you have ever done or believed? I hope your answer is no. Because the right way for you may or may not be the right way for anyone else. That’s why there are so many different kinds of holiday treats.
Imagine what would happen if people, all people, allowed their neighbors to celebrate in whatever way works for them (assuming nobody is getting hurt)? What would happen if we each took time to understand a bit more about other’s traditions? What would our world, our country, your neighborhood look like if we spent time honoring each of the ideals found within each religion? Because they are all pretty similar. The devil is literally in the details.
We are living in a time and place that is full of divide. There are so few unifying forces at work. Why not try to let the joy of this season permeate in all things that you do? Because the candles of Kwanzaa sound pretty friggin’ amazing. And the story of the Hanukah oil? That’s just so magical. And a baby, the son of God no less, born to a virgin? Woah.
So what I’m suggesting is that you take the traditions out of the meaning itself and let the love and beauty found within each wash over you. Because you, yes YOU deserve to feel the magic of the season. You, yes YOU deserve to mine your light while you watch others mine theirs.