Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Bodhi Day, Saint Lucia’s Day, Winter Solstice, Dongzhi Festival, Yalda, Pancha Ganapati, Yule/Jul/Jule – winter celebrations are as old as man, and just as widespread. Every culture has its version of a ritual of renewal, celebrating the triumph of light over dark, the return of the sun, the rebirth of life after death. It’s the harvest cycle, the celestial cycle, and the life cycle all rolled up into beautiful metaphors which all of us celebrate, no matter what religions we call ourselves.
This year, I’d like to embrace all the different traditions of the holiday season.
We’ll leave behind resentment when someone wishes us a “Merry Christmas” if we’re not Christian, or “Happy Hanukkah” if we’re not Jewish, or “Happy Yule” if we’re not neo-pagan and just be thankful that someone is wishing us well this time of year.
We’ll give cards and gifts to those we love, because it’s always good to show our loved ones how we feel about them. You might even make your gift extra special by writing a letter of appreciation to your loved ones that they will treasure forever (it’s the best stocking stuffer money can’t buy!).
We’ll take time to celebrate the fact that every end is really a new beginning. Whether that means planting daffodil bulbs in your garden in preparation for Spring, or worshipping with others of your faith at church, or filling your home with lights (on trees, on menorahs, or with candles), is entirely up to you.
We’ll be our best selves. I’m sure you’ve noticed how people act so much nicer around the holidays when we focus more on giving and kindness. Use this season to jump start your own initiative into becoming a more giving person year-round, and let whatever holiday you celebrate be truly meaningful in an enduring way.