First, a head-nod of respect to people all over the world with diverse beliefs + practices.
There are a lot of spiritual and cultural celebrations happening, and the generic "Happy Holidays!" greeting is, to me, a way to acknowledge that more happens in the winter season than Christmas -- like Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa and others. So, Happy Holidays everyone!
My spiritual roots were planted in Christianity, so this post is a celebration of Christmas from that perspective (which actually includes many blended, but usually unacknowledged, traditions like Saturnalia and Yule, but that's another post.)
Second, a quick look at "tradition."
A "tradition" is a transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation. It is an inherited, established, customary pattern of thought, action and behavior. Christmas is one of the most tradition-rich times of year.
Maybe it's because I'm not a big fan of repetition, or because I need to understand why I am doing something over and over, but I had to ask "WHY?" If Christ is so central to Christmas that the name is inherent in the word, WHY do so many non-related activities exist -- and often take over?
One year -- in my late-20's -- I baked a spice cake and wrote in icing, "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" Oh, yes I did. And people thought it was weird. But I thought all that dissonance was weird! Calling a celebration one thing, and then doing things that have nothing to do with the essence of that celebration (like indoctrinating children with a big, fat lie, and a high-dose of materialistic expectations via "The List.")
All the automatically-accepted traditions of doing certain things, with no more compelling reason for doing it other than, "Well, that's just how we've always done it." was leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Hence the moist and tasty birthday cake. I was trying to re-center and revive the event with real meaning.
Retailers co-opted Christmas, and most folks and families in the modern world play along. If for no other reason than that the meme is just too great to go against. So, if you can't beat 'em, bake a cake ;-)
And now, Your Christmas Blessing.
The point and purpose of Christmas is to celebrate Christ, Who was and is The Anointed One, and Who gave and gives a fresh anointing to all who desire it. An anointing is spiritual power that enables. Empowers. It is independent of your mood and your money. It transcends the petty rules of institutions. It is an intimate endowment -- divine and sublime. The anointing of This Time is hot fire-blaze for ho-hum dreariness. It's what your soul looks and longs for, but will never find on Amazon.com. It patches pot-holes in your heart. It oils the crust and rust of daily life. All this, and the anointing of Christ is as easy to experience as saying, "Okay."
Don't make it tedious or technical. Engineered or elite. It's graceful. Though It is the power of God, it glides down like butter on a hot biscuit. Let it slide right inside you, and add strength to your ways and your days.
If you've been a bitter scallywag, a trifle or general A-hole in your dealings with people... if you've renounced every rite and ritual this side of the Moon... if you're hung up on how to relate to mysteries... if you're unsure of what to anchor yourself in, or what to have your kids anchor in... if you're skeptical about everything I've written and said just now... Come! You. Sit and feast. Right where you are. Looking at this screen, or listening to my voice... it is absolutely sane to want to feel the great, anointed love that heralds this renewing time of year. Say, "Okay." Mean it. And let the unconquerable Sun enlighten your next step. And the one after that. And on and on...
This Christmas, may all twinkling lights and stars, remind us of the deeper truth, wisdom and consciousness intended for our paths and hearts.
This Christmas, may every decorated tree in every living-room and front yard, remind us of the magic and life that fills all forests, and may every decorated tree remind us of our duty to protect old forests, and start new ones.
This Christmas, may every present -- given and received -- remind us that our real presence can never be bagged or boxed. And that's the thing we want most: to be all-the-way here, with someone else who is all-the-way here, too.
May you experience lots of light and trees and presence in the coming days. May you find yourself dedicated and consecrated to a special purpose. Merry, blessed Christmas to you, and all dear to you.
11TH PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLE: USE edges + vALUE the marginal.
Two distinct and neighboring realities create an edge. Like a child in your adult workplace. Hallways and elevators in heavily-peopled buildings. A difficult but necessary conversation. Shedding an outgrown belief, and walking into larger fields of life. Edges are often considered scary because they are less crowded, and they are the furthest away from the center of something. The reward that comes with this risk is that these edges also increase diversity and, therefore, productivity. There is great value in exploring the edges of your life and dreams. What's at the edge of your relationship with your partner or a family member? What's at the outermost edge of your career or your parenting? What's at the furthest edge of your health... your creative expression? For a moment, leave the crowded noisy center of things, and explore all your edges. Expect a new and robust yield of surprises that sustain. It's a fun and remediating way to live.
For a stellar ecological explanation of edges and "edge effect," please click the link to a Deep Green Permaculture article here.