Tis the season of lights and festivities. Of heavy feasting, of songs, of spice drinks, of merriment and pleasure. For some monotheist this is a time of religious piety, of prayer and spiritual responsibility. For our Pagan ancestors it was a time of celebrated debauchery and that in itself was spiritual. Pagans understood that spirituality didn't always mean punishment, guilt, shame and the relief of forgiveness. It could very much be about sex, drinking, giving out gifts, receiving gifts, eating and other timeless fashions that never have gone out of style. No matter how oppressed.
Cold days would bring together warm bodies. Its no one wonder how birth rates go up on months a gestialial period away from the autumn months in colder climates and closer to the December the further south you live, in the Northern Hemisphere.
Now for most people in the USA, this is a time of year to give a little more than we usually do, a time of memories of years past, a moment when families will come together, near or far, to be together, maybe for the only time of the year. Its a mile stone in the memories of a lost loved, like grandmas last christmas, to pleasurable mile stones like babies first holiday season.
Whether today is a day of piety, debauchery or a time of family and community, my goal is to try avoid this time of year, materialism. Regardless if the holidays bring back ancient traditions of lights, your new year, your longest night of the year, the birth of your savior, an excuse to be with a family, the time of year you give to charity, none of theses true and honorable traditions should be tainted by greed, selfishness, hate etc... which materialism is combined of two of those negative qualities, greed and selfishness, but it can and often does lead to hate.
I by no means suggest we stop giving gifts. I'm simply suggesting that gifts be a small part of the the holiday and make sure the day is about what is important in your life. For your young children, even our ancestors would use this year to encourage giving, forgiving, joining communities and families. Sadly, for a long time, people have become more distrusting of their neighbors. Communities are more isolated. So how do we as families, socially conscious of the value these traditions bring back the true meaning of the holidays, after decades of materialism and social anxieties?
Well, it may take some work on your part, but here are some ideas I have found, that may work for you.
1. The Unitarian Universalist of Rochester of NY had a wonderful idea called the "The Greater Good Project."
2. Do It Yourself! Showing your children that making your own gift can be far more sentimental and meaningful when you create the gift.
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3. Volunteer! Sometimes children don't know how much they have, until they see others with far less. Making volunteering for a local charity this time of year, can give your child the gift of perspective.
4. Cancel the Holiday altogether. Though, this may seem extreme, one family has choose to finely make the age old threat come true.
5. Holiday Caroling is a great way to break the ice with neighbors. You don't have to be the greatest singer. If your kids are cute enough, don't worry about carrying a tune. Learn different kinds of songs, from different cultures, celebrating a holiday this time of year.
Remember this a time of year, to show your child that there is more to life than then things you buy. What is more important are things that can not be bought. Love, family, respect, kindness, forgiveness, community, peace, acceptences, etc... Let us remember, that nearly all traditions at this time, center on this notion. I challenge you to give your children more for the holiday than what can simply be bought!
With that, Happy Holidays to you all!!! May your spirits be bright!