I’ve made a real effort to start calling the time between Halloween and New Year’s Eve the “holiday season,” not the “Christmas season.” For me it’s the “Christmas season,” but it is a different holiday for many others around the world. I’ve been thinking a lot about letting others be and honoring who others are this holiday season, as well as learning about what these holy days mean to them. Learning about the joy they find and cling to. It turns out, there is an abundant diversity of joy to go around during this time of year.
I don’t know much about other winter holidays, other than a little bit about Hanukkah. (EIGHT DAYS OF GIFTS no fair.) I’d like to learn more about the details of the story behind it, about how my friends celebrate, and what it means to them. I’d like to be better at acknowledging when they are in the midst of their holidays and celebrate with them, in a sense. (More celebrating, you say?! An excuse for more champagne, methinks!)
So much of this season could be built around seeing and loving other people, without the materialism. Gift giving, when best, says “I see you, I love you, and I want to give you something that I picked out for you because I think it will make you, not just anyone, happy.” I think acknowledging holy days does that, as well. It says “I see you, I love you, and I am happy for you to celebrate a day that means so much to how you have come to be who you are.”
And maybe that means I can start incorporating new traditions into our own celebrations. (I LOVE TRADITIONS!) Maybe it could just be an excuse to try new food. I told my husband that when we have kids, I want to focus on a new culture every Christmas, to teach our kids about how others celebrate their holy days. We will talk about their stories, make their food, maybe even do some fun activities.
(The huz said that just sounds like homework, but he is a Grinch who doesn’t understand the awesomeness of holidays.)
I think the way people celebrate what’s holy in their lives is something really special and could be celebrated by those outside their faith. It’s just a matter of finding out how to do that respectfully and joyfully. Luckily I live in a culture diverse and close enough that those opportunities are all around me — I just need to be intentional. I want to really see the people around me. This time of year is a great time to put that into practice, because the celebrations of other holy days are abundant. I think we all benefit when we learn about and absorb a bit of others’ different joys, especially during this surprisingly hard yet beautiful time of year.