Learning to Love the Holidays

It’s that time of year: everything seems to be winding down and speeding up, all at the same time. Friendsgivings and family get togethers to plan, snowy days and hot beverages to enjoy, gift and card lists getting longer – everything helping to foster a bit of seasonal cheer.

I wasn’t always a fan of the hustle and bustle though.

The Littlest Grinch

Kids are supposed to like the holidays, especially Christmas, but in this and many other ways I just had to be different. I was miserable and wanted company. I didn’t understand why we were killing trees and forced to see family members that we otherwise had nothing to do with.

It all seemed excessive, pointless and contrived. I didn’t keep these thoughts to myself either. I remember being asked to help decorate the tree once and responding obstinately, “I’ll watch but you can’t make me participate.”

Image: Panda Whale

I was raised Christian and had a voracious appetite for knowledge as a kid. These two aspects of my childhood were consistently at odds but ultimately lead me to the depth of spiritual experiences I enjoy today. Back then though, I was always asking too many questions.

I knew Christ’s most probable birthday wasn’t in December. I never had the chance to believe in Santa and though I had generally unlimited access to the Bible, other Christian texts, encyclopedias and my homeschool curriculum, anything with actual Pagan or eclectic spiritual content was completely prohibited. I simply didn’t have the framework my inquisitive mind needed to appreciate these Pagan, albeit bastardized traditions.

Transformed

Today, I am the householder for my grandma’s mountain estate. I am the hostess for Friendsgiving and holidays. I not only decorate for but plan, pull off and even enjoy Christmas festivities now.

I’m sending out cards this season. It’s reached a critical level. I am a full fledged holly jolly person these days.

Image: funnybeing.com

So what changed? It’s true, I am not the same person as that very stubborn little girl, but even just years ago I struggled with seasonal affective disorder and abhorred all holiday traditions. For all my personal development and growth, I’ve still felt like I had to manipulate myself into participating and pretend that I cared about these things I genuinely found frivolous for the majority of my adult life.

The change wasn’t about me, it was about my awareness. I became aware of the Pagan roots, the actual traditions and the intentions behind the creation of these holidays. That’s it!

Creating Genuine Appreciation

Granted, awareness isn’t always endearing. Thanksgiving isn’t one of those holidays with admirable roots, but it’s still important to be aware.

Knowing what was done to the indigenous North Americans following their naive hospitality towards the pilgrims, I can purposefully acknowledge both humanity’s capacity for good as well as for evil. I can make meaning that extends beyond media and cultural portrayals and stereotypes, becoming more intentional, respectful and truly grateful. Personally, I celebrate what I call Displaced People’s day instead of Thanksgiving, trying to bare in mind that humanity’s greatest threat, as well as benefit, has always been humanity itself.

Image: The Atlantic

Appreciation doesn’t mean adoption. Christmas is another one of those celebrations I’ve found joy in tweaking for myself. From the outside looking in, it’s all the same, but my heart is filled with cheer because it knows the true original intentions of the traditions I have now. I will be celebrating a sort of Yule/Saturnalia mash up.

I will decorate because bringing more lights and greenery into the house is an ancient practice for combating seasonal affective disorder. I will give gifts and send cards because during this coldest and darkest time of the year it’s more important than ever to encourage and support our loved ones. I will cook for family and entertain friends to create a sense of warmth and community in order to offset the isolation of winter.

Letting the Truth Inspire

I don’t need Santa coming down the chimney with diamonds. I don’t need lavish gifts or celebrations. I don’t need religious obligations. Just give me the truth.

I can relate to feeling cold, sad and alone in winter! I don’t want my loved ones to feel that! Of course I’ll do my part to encourage and support my community so that we all make it through to see another spring!

It’s that easy.

Image: Instagram

Turns out I wasn’t every really obstinate. I always wanted the truth. Now that I’ve got it, nothing else matters.

“The simple truth will always have the most power and potentiality.”

mayryanna

Happy holidays and blessed be my beloveds – and yes, I sincerely mean that!

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