During this holiday weekend, I have heard a lot of people talking about the meaning of Christmas. Some say it was originally a Pagan holiday that celebrates light at the darkest time of year. Others say that it originated as a Norse practice involving St. Nicholas and gift giving. Others focus on the birth of Jesus Christ as central to the holiday.
From my perspective, Christmas is all of these things. But how can this be? Here's why: No matter what your particular tradition, Christmas always equals family. Each year, people all over the world gather with family and loved ones at this time of year.
And it goes beyond that: We actually enter into a realm of spiritual selflessness at this time of year. We think about the needs of others and we open our wallets to charitable causes.
I think Joe Campbell would say that we become selfless at this time of year (in the northern hemisphere, anyway) because we have reached the nadir of our annual journey. It is at this time, a time where the sun has all but dropped below the horizon, we realize our precarious place int he universe. That's when we realize that We Are One and we turn to each other and simply say, "I love you."
Christmas is, indeed, a celebration of human love, particularly for family. Pagans understand this, the Norse peoples understand this, and Christians understand this. Everyone who celebrates Christmas or Yule or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa understands that this is the time of year for family.
In fact, my personal holy trinity is father+mother+child.
So, before we get carried away with Jesus's death and resurection (which inevitably enters into the Christmas rhetoric), let's appreciate Mary's triumph. She gave birth to a son, and that, in itself, is enough for rejoicing because it represents all "Mary's" and all "babies."
Second, let's give a shout out to Joseph, who stood by his family to complete the trinity.
My coffee is getting cold and my family is in the other room, so I need to end this entry. But the next time someone asks you about the real meaning of Christmas, you can tell them FAMILY.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Yule, Happy Kwanzaa