When I was 17, I stopped celebrating Christmas. I was really unhappy with all the THINGS and STUFF. It seemed to me that Christmas should not be about that. Christmas felt like a time to be Greedy and it was not a good feeling. So I stopped celebrating. No cards and no gifts. Oh, occasional cookies or fudge. I’d make those and share, but not the store explorations, not the money spent, not the grumpy hassle of unhappy crowds. None of that.
But then I went into the ministry.
Even a UU minister has to celebrate Christmas for the flock, so I had to figure out how to make it meaningful. It seems to me that when we celebrate the birthday of a person who was so exceptionally wise and peace-loving, that to put greed into the mix is unfortunate, at best. I respect Jesus and wanted to honor him in an appropriate way.
So my Christmas traditions became thus: I would put together a Christmas Eve service that contained Beauty and Hope – and lots of music and even some laughter. We would always end by turning out the lights in the church, then each person would have a candle that they would light from their neighbor’s candle as we sang ‘Silent Night’. And a final, soft Benediction of Peace.
After the service was over, I would walk out to my car, then stop, look up into the sky, and fall into it. The deep, dark welcoming sky, that has seen so many humans praying for Hope, for Peace. The prayers of the world, given to the sky, to whatever, whomever is listening, caring.
Then someone would call out “Merry Christmas” and there would be laughter and I would come back to the here and now.
But when I became so disabled five years ago, I had to give up the ministry –- which I dearly loved – and with it, the tradition of putting together the Christmas Eve service went by the wayside. I sorely missed it.
Having moved around so much, I live nowhere near friends or family, so Christmas has become a time to be alone.
You might think this is a bad thing, but it is not. For me, Christmas is a time for quiet celebration, for music and good cheer, love and peace. I live now with 3 dogs and 3 cats, plus a small herd of Ferals that I feed and have been taming. This means I am surrounded by love.
So tonight, when I was feeding the Ferals, I stopped for a moment. The cats were circling at my feet and rubbing my legs, saying “Thank you” for the food. I looked up and once again fell into the sky. The deep, dark, welcoming sky. The sky full of Prayers for Peace.
It is a Beautiful night and I am content.
My hope for each of us is a wonderful and sweet