A Celebration of Families

I again feel the urge to balance my holiday cynicism with sentiments that are a little more uplifting. Because when all things are considered, this time of year still does bring joy to me.

Christmas has proven to be remarkably flexible over the centuries. A pagan holiday co-opted by early Christians as a celebration of Jesus’ birth (sorry folks, he was more likely born in the spring, when Judean shepherds traditionally let their flocks out at night), enthusiastically celebrated by wassaliers to a degree that led to its banishment by numerous churche reformers over the centuries, merged with Nordic folklore, embraced by merchants — Christmas keeps evolving, which not only explains its endurance but also demonstrates how the holiday can convey such widely diverse messages to so many people.

For me, Christmas has always been about family. Memories of early mornings in my parents’ home, tearing through gift-wrapped presents with my cousins, mid-afternoon meals that extended into the evening — and more recent moments, decorating the tree with ornaments my wife and I gathered over years of visits to faraway lands, seeing the happiness in my own children. Christmas has the potential to bring families together in a way that’s near impossible at other times of the year, and it’s that power which The Girl on the Piccadilly Line so wonderfully describes today. Being English, her holiday traditions seem to this Yank, to borrow one of the metaphors she uses to describe her parents’ different traditions, “a bit like driving a courtesy car that’s the same model as your own: same, same but different.” She references several English customs, products, and foods that were completely foreign to me, yet in the vivid descriptions of her family I could see my own, both past and present (especially in the spirited Monopoly games). To employ a metaphor of my own, reading her post was like eating a favorite meal flavored with different spices — definitely not the same old thing, yet still comfortably familiar.

Each Christmas is a huge effort for her family, and they spend weeks preparing for the holiday, but the rewards are obvious in each word of her post. Perhaps that should be the lesson of the day — Christmas is what you make of it, and for all of the time and energy you give to it, the holiday will return so much more.


One thought on “A Celebration of Families

  1. This is a beautiful and thought-provoking post. it is truth that Christmas wherever it is celebrated with or without the Reason for the Season it is what is the heart intention and what is the purpose to make it happy and fun for others also in the world which has so many stresses it does have the pulling power to reunite families (tear them apart as well but that is usually driven by ‘externals’ not the heart intent). My honest wish for you and those you care about is that time can be taken – never mind the food- the décor the weather or anything else. Simply SHOW CARE. (I include pets as well). Forget about materialism….CARE!.
    Life is short……… Holidays and ‘fun days’ are limited year by year. Waste not any opportunity to express LOVE. Yep, It is most unlikely Jesus was born on 25th December. For convenience it was slotted into a calendar but, He was born……I am one who will testify by a changed life that I am glad He was born – whenever. I choose to follow HIM through life WOW am I glad. (particularly in a cancer ward and when life throws its curve balls.). De-stress and point others around to a more ‘peaceful’ approach to it ALL.

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