Sunday, January 01, 2006

FAT AND HAPPY The days around December 25th seem to bring up all sorts of discussions about the Christian holiday versus other religious observances versus the commerciality of the time, et cetera et cetera... Personally, I don't belong to a specific religious community. I practice a blend of things that I have been taught over the years from friends and family and outside sources. One of the things that remains constant in my life is celebrating the Christmas holiday. I don't attend church but I respect those who do. One of my nephews and his family have a tradition that I enjoy when I celebrate with them. We go out to eat, then when we return we start with one person reading the passages describing the birth of Jesus. Candles are given out to the group, then one person lights their candle and tells the group what they are thankful for. The next person lights his candle and does the same, followed by the next, and so on until all the candles are lit. We sing Silent Night in the candlelight. For me, the ritual is an honoring of a person who tried to pass on a message of peace and love to the multitude. It gives a meaning to the time and reminds me of the blessings I have received over the year. This year, I went to another family's house to celebrate the holiday. It was a more secular celebration, a family gathering that reminded me of the gatherings held at my parents' home years ago. Watching my three grandnephews claw their way through their gifts was a joy to see. It's not often that one can see this ritual through the eyes of a child and it reminded me of the times in my childhood when I would find under the tree that special toy or game I had hoped for. Later, we talked about what was the most memorable toy we had received as a kid at Christmas. For my brother, it was an airplane he got at Grandma's that promptly was lost. For me it was a 400 piece set of Legos complete with boards to put them on, gears, wheels, and all sorts of things. But the gathering was more than just the gifts under the tree. We played dominoes and Yahtzee, watched movies, and ate and ate and ate and ate. In the back of my mind I was thinking how I was truly blessed that I have a diverse family. This group welcomed me with open arms, asking me about the choir and my knitting, and talked with me about things I would never expect from the more religious members of the family. My brother wanted me to feel comfortable and at home. My nieces and nephews-in-law talked about all sorts of things with me. My grandnephews gave me the gift of joy when they found that I had made them mittens just for THEM! What could an auntie ask for? The experience reminded me that I needed to take care of myself and the place I live in. I'm lazy and tend to leave clutter lying about. So I came home and resolved to work on cleaning up my house. I gave myself a reason, taking advantage of the sales the stores are having right now to purchase a new TV to replace the dying one I have. I had another reason: to make room for the armoire my brother in law made for me for my coats. It's too easy to fall into a rut and find yourself sliding into a depression when you come home to chaos. The cleanup has been rejuvenating. I will start the new year clean.
So whatever holiday you have been celebrating this past December, or if you celebrated nothing at all but the joy of living, I hope that your celebrations were warm and hearty and full of joy.

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