Why on Christmas?

First of all, if you celebrate Christmas I would like to wish you a most magnificent day! However, for a variety of reasons not everyone does celebrate Christmas, what does that say about them and how are they treated?

I happen to be a Christian so for me Christmas is a no-brainer celebration. After all, as a Christian my faith tells me that this is the day to celebrate the birth of our savior. In honor of that amazing fact, we as Christians gather together to sing praises to our God, we often exchange presents and offer good cheer to those we meet. So far, so good. I have many friends who are not Christian, no problem. I wish them a most blessed day on religious holidays that I know are important to them and they return the heartfelt wish on the days important to me. And then there are my friends who are agnostic or even atheist, no problem. Many of them celebrate the day in a totally secular manner, again that seems to be considered acceptable to most people, Santa Claus visits, egg-nog is enjoyed and the world continues to spin to everyone’s satisfaction.

Enter a young man I’ll call Jeff, okay, he’s my middle son. He was raised Catholic,  however, he has decided that’s simply not his belief system. He doesn’t rain on anyone else’s parade; he doesn’t disparage our celebration he simply doesn’t ‘do’ Christmas himself. It’s interesting what sort of conversations and interesting comments take place when he mentions this fact to others. Apparently, this actually aggravates some people, my question is why? It seems that the common thought is that he is somehow a living, breathing, unreformed Ebenezer Scrooge because he doesn’t buy or expect presents or put up a tree. Huh? While I have no problem with folks celebrating in any way they choose it seems to me that we should be just as tolerant of someone who simply chooses not to celebrate.

I’ve heard some pretty disparaging comments about this and I don’t get it. Jeff frequently asks simple but thought provoking questions, such as why so many people pretend to like one another this time of year, but can’t tolerate one another next week. Why do they spend money buying presents for these people if they don’t truly care for them? Why are people expected to overspend to show they care about one another even if they cannot afford to spend money? Do any of those things have to do with the birth of Christ? From what I understand Jeff considers this sad and more than a bit hypocritical, I tend to agree. So, there are very unkind comments about him being unfriendly, stingy or even uncaring. While I don’t know the situation regarding every person who chooses not to celebrate Christmas I happen to know this is not the fact with this young man.

Jeff is always thoughtful about the feelings of others. If he is in town for Christmas or Easter he even attends mass with his Dad and me, not for himself, but because he knows it makes us feel good. I consider that to be very thoughtful. He’s absolutely not cheap or unwilling to spend on others; he is very generous without any special occasion in mind, because that’s just who Jeff is and the way he likes to treat people. More to the point Jeff and others I know who do not celebrate this particular holiday tend to treat people pretty much the same, day in or day out. Willing to know strangers before they judge them, loyal to friends and pretty firm in their stand regarding those they dislike. Now that seems very fair to me.

It seems that Jeff had a few things to say about this himself, you can read his thoughts if you visit Walden Ponder. http://www.waldenponder.com/2009/12/christmas-comes-every-year

Today, I am celebrating Christmas with the members of our family who are in town. We will eat, open presents and enjoy being together all in the name of celebrating the birth of Christ. I’ve got to say that I appreciate Jeff and others who don’t celebrate for the gentle reminder they offer. I will try to keep his position in mind all year long, hopefully, it will be a good reminder for me to keep in contact with those I care about, offer my love and generosity throughout the year and not only on particular days. I have to believe that is the best way I can honor my own Christian beliefs and respect the beliefs of others at the same time.

For those of you who celebrate, I wish you all the most wonderful blessings of this marvelous day. For those who don’t celebrate, I still wish you all the blessings of this marvelous day. Gosh, that feels good.

Namaste,

Sandy

Together

It’s been a long time since my entire family was together for Christmas. Our eldest son left for the Air Force right after high school and spent most of the next six Christmas holidays in faraway places. One of our other sons enjoys traveling and he spent last Christmas far away in a much warmer location. This year they are all home, along with our beautiful new daughter-in-law. We are very grateful.

As a life coach, I spend a lot of my time trying to help others see that there are always at least two ways of looking at every situation. We have been very grateful for the past several years that everyone was healthy and happy, focusing on the amazing blessings in our lives and enjoying the emails and phone calls that we shared, even when we were not together.

I realize that it is very likely that next year we will be spending the holiday season in different locations. One of our boys is probably going to be moving south (he is so not a fan of the cold Wisconsin weather) another is probably going to relocate to another state for his job. That means that the third will probably get a bit more attention than he would like, but he’s a good sport and I think he can handle it.

What all of this means is that like everyone, we discover again and again that life is about change. We are determined to relax and enjoy having each other this year. Visiting with grandparents, aunts, and uncles we appreciate all of the blessings that we often take for granted. We don’t know what the next year will bring, except that we can be pretty certain it will be somewhat different than this season. Some of us may be together, some may be far away. I feel sure that we will still find ways to stay close, and being located in other parts of the country gives us all good reason to take a vacation. For our family even when we are separated by many miles, we still know that we are connected by love and genuine affection.

I encourage you to contact and connect with family and friends. If they are nearby terrific! If they are far away you can still be together. Phone calls, emails, cards and letters still connect us in powerful ways. We don’t have to be related to those we love, friends often become our family. This is a wonderful season to reach out to all those we care about and to let them know how we feel about them. Every time we do share that affection we feel a little bit better about our own lives and what friend or family member doesn’t want to know they are loved. The life coach in me loves that! It’s a win-win all around.

So, for this holiday season, I wish you the fabulous feeling of knowing that you care about someone and that they care about you in return.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, happy holidays to all of you my friends,
Sandy