Ooof. That was one of the best Thanksgiving holidays ever. Truly.
Good company, good food, good wine, good conversation, good music, a warm, dry house to enjoy it all in, candles everywhere.
We are blessed.
And now all eyes are on Christmas. Or some other non-descript, white-washed, diluted, non-denominational, event sort of celebrated in December.
I celebrate Christmas. And Solstice. I am a more spiritual person than I am a religous one, and I pay deep attention to the changing cycles of the earth spinning around the sun.
And if I wish you a Merry Christmas, it is not meant to exclude anything you might celebrate instead of or in addition to Christmas – it is simply meant to convey wishes for peace and goodwill, love and laughter, to you and yours in this dark time of the year.
Why don’t I just say, “Happy Holidays,” then? Sometimes I do.
But the point I am making is that it is not wrong to say, “Merry Christmas,” even if the other person doesn’t celebrate Christmas.
Years ago, I hosted a Solstice party, inviting dozens of people, filling the house with candles and good food, making a welcome space for conversation and schmoozing and snacking.
All night, I had greeted guests with, “Happy Solstice.” The one person I saluted with a hearty, “Merry Christmas!” is Jewish. He grinned, rebutted with “Shalom… and Happy Solstice!” as I realised what I had said, and we laughed together.
I do believe in the power of words, and the importance of being specific and inclusive. At the same time, when the intent is joyous, peaceful, and neighbourly, I do not believe the words can be wrong.
On another note, I do think there is a right time to celebrate Christmas. For some of you, Christmas celebrations have already started: I know a family who opens the season by playing Christmas carols as they do the Thanksgiving dinner dishes. Then there are the poor bastards in retail who start Christmas when they put away the Hallowe’en decorations.
Christmas starts on 1 December in our house with a very slow ramp-up to the big day. I don’t want to be tired of Christmas carols before we even get to Christmas Eve.
Then, there are twelve days to Christmas. Yes, this harkens back to my Catholic upbringing, and the coming of the three wise guys on Epiphany (6 January). But more than that, extending the celebration of Christmas protects us from that horrid anti-climax so many folks feel by noon on Christmas day.
In Canada (and Britain), Boxing Day was traditionally the day for visiting: you stayed home with your family on Christmas Day, and then went visiting on Boxing Day. I like to continue that visiting tradition right through to New Year’s Day (at least), when folks are a lot more relaxed than in the days leading up to Christmas proper.
This time of year, the days are each shorter and darker than the one before. Even after the Solstice is officially passed, and we have survived the darkest, longest night, it will take a few weeks for us to start noticing the ever-so-slightly longer days. We can brighten this time for and with each other by sharing the best of ourselves: a story, a helping hand, a hearty laugh, a warm embrace, a meal shared.
I was going to share some favourite Christmas movies and activities today (as promised). But I see that I’ve been looking at the fog in the valley again, and thinking deep thoughts: this post is long enough.
Look for another installment of ninja facts tomorrow, and holiday stuff on Sunday.
listening to: Vienna Teng, Harbor