Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

It's a complicated holiday as we celebrate it in this country, a horrendous mash-up of religion, commercialism, and bits and pieces of left-overs lying about. But it is also a perfect example of what it is to be human in the world-- there's sort of a pattern and set of traditions (one could almost say standards) for how we are "supposed to" celebrate, and yet all of us have modified and created our own family traditions, depending on where we are and what is going on and what we believe and how we like to celebrate. Much of how we choose to approach the day is private and personal, and that's not a bad thing at all. So as a nation, we are all spending today kind of the same way, and kind of not. Because we are human beings.

None of my children were able to be home this year, and they are far apart from each other, but since they were old enough to do it, they have played Battleship on Christmas Eve. Last night they played over skype (the series remains tied). Here in northwestern PA it's a lot more like April than December, but the flock of geese is still hanging out on the river behind the house. Last night my wife and I played in a brass ensemble at a church service; this morning my wife is sleeping in as her first Christmas Day treat.

I wouldn't presume to tell you how to celebrate the day, though I do have one suggestion. Decades ago at my college graduation, a baccalaureate speaker talked about the idea of sabbath, a holy day on which we were to behave as if we didn't have stuff or the obligations that came with it. It really struck a chord and though the speaker didn't suggest it, connected for me with John Lennon's "Imagine."

What would you do if you didn't have to worry about your stuff, your obligations, your business, your "have to's" but could simply stop and breathe and pay attention to the people and the world around you? That, suggested the speaker, would be a sabbath. We were supposed to be stopping our business and taking stock once a week; we kind of lost that. But Christmas, once a year, provides us with a sabbath of sorts.

So whether you're doing it in celebration of the day when the Creator of All That Is became flesh and dwelt among us and God came to help us get our collective shit together, or whether you're simply celebrating an occasion for family and friends, or whether you're honoring some other faith or tradition, or whether you're having none of that, or even if this is just a day to get through as best you can, may this day be one that allows you to feed your spirit, catch your breath, trim your sails, and move forward with a renewed focus.

Well, that's my suggestion. My wish for you is that the day be exactly what you had hoped it would be. Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Peter! May you and all your efforts to meaningfully and genuinely support every student in this country be blessed.