It’s that time of year, folks! Holiday season! Anyone remember when the Christmas season didn’t begin until after Thanksgiving? You wouldn’t even see Christmas commercials on TV, Christmas shows or movies, or decorations in the stores until after Thanksgiving Day. Today, some stores start putting out their Christmas decorations and items at the beginning of fall if not before! They may as well keep the Christmas items out all year long because Christmas season just keeps getting longer and longer and it’s become all about the commercialism.
I love the Spirit of the holiday season and seeing all the colorful decorations. People tend to be a little nicer to each other and we feel a little more joyful. Various groups and organizations make large feasts for the homeless and hungry, toys are gathered for children in need, and we donate a little more towards various charities. I just wish we could do this all year long rather than just one month of the year.
It seems that in recent years, the Christmas season in particular has taken on a life of its own. People start fighting and arguing over what greeting to say; whether we should say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. If someone doesn’t receive the greeting they think they should get, they take it personally and get upset. Some smart off at the other person and then complain that their greeting and/or religious holiday is under attack. Personally, I’m just happy that anyone says anything to me because there have been so many times that people have completely ignored me when I said hello and walk by me like I’m not even there. So if you see me, I’ll embrace whatever greeting you say to me!
People also fight and argue over which religious holiday displays should be publicly shown and if the display is not of their religion, then people get in an uproar. I love the diversity of our religious holidays and would be happy to learn of other holiday and cultural customs! They don’t offend me at all! And let’s not even talk about fighting in the stores especially during the Black Friday early morning sales!
There are numerous religious holidays in December and I honor and respect all of them. Some of them are Hanukkah, Christmas, Bodhi Day, Kwanzaa, Yule, Immaculate Conception of Mary, Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and I’m sure there are others that I missed.
The Spirit of the holiday season should be of love, peace, compassion, kindness, family, friends, and celebrating with each other. When we are secure in our beliefs, we do not feel threatened by other holiday traditions, and we have no need to force our own on anyone else.
Jesus was one example of being the epitome of unconditional love for all people. I can’t think of a greater way to honor him than to show love and respect to my fellow travelers in this life, to embrace the diversity of their holidays, and to do so with respect. If we want to honor the spiritual masters of our religions, then we should do so by honoring and respecting others and their right to celebrate their holidays in peace.
If you really want to discover your core beliefs about your holiday, then don’t decorate, don’t put up a tree, don’t take your children to see Santa, don’t give gifts or go to parties, don’t put up any displays, and don’t eat holiday food. When you strip away all the symbols, commercialism, and celebrations, you may find out your true beliefs. And if you believe in the true Spirit of your holiday, then you will find that none of those things matter. But we should also rejoice that we do have the freedom to celebrate our holidays in any way we choose as long as those beliefs are not being forced on anyone else.
I totally believe that our religious holidays should have the foundation of unconditional love for all regardless of whose holiday it is. If we could all show love towards each other during the holiday season, then we can really say, “Peace on Earth, good will towards men” and mean it.
Hamilton Wright Mabie said, “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!” And when it comes to Christmas, Calvin Coolidge stated, “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper November 28, 2014.