This year the winter solstice came on December 21st. Already we had trimmed our Christmas tree, hung the garlands and stockings, wrapped presents, mailed cards, and felt the warm glow of receiving letters, cards, texts, and calls from old friends and family members. We valued the meaning of Kwanzaa for our African-American friends as they plan to exchange gifts and join in the revelry of deep friendships and the heroic heritage of long-passed family members.
My heritage being that of Christmas celebrations, I return again and again to the meaningful rituals of listening to Montavani's great Christmas music while we trim our tree, pour the eggnog, and exchange ideas of what we might do this Christmas. Will we attend the annual performance of Handel's Messiah, participate in the neighborhood lighting of its Christmas tree, remember to go outside and watch our neighbors valiantly gather together with their riding lawn mowers for another neighborhood Christmas parade, and puzzle together around the question of what we might give our daughter and granddaughter who will be heading off to college this next September.
So, if you have read this far, you may feel saturated with my personal "spirit of Christmas." I understand if this is so. The many years that have passed since my childhood have brought no less joy in the Christmas, Yuletide, midwinter season. I love all of it even as I recognize that many do not, and also that others celebrate this season within their own traditions or not at all. Even so, we may still celebrate our common life, we may grieve over the too pervasive suffering while we try to do all we can to bring support and healing, and we may pause in this too-hectic rush of our distracted lives to give thanks for those who have cared for us and made possible the meanings we have shared and our experience of a unity of spirit that heals. In that spirit, we work and pray for a new year that may arise from this deep, dark winter with hope, peace, joy, and love for all people.
And, as we would say in our family,
HAPPY NEW YEAR!