Musings on a Christ-free Christmas

Harold the Christmas Tree.

Happy Monday All!

Many of us had a holiday yesterday. Whether we wanted it or not, our society shuts down on Christmas day.  For my part, I love Christmas, even though I am not a Christian. The Jesus’  birthday thing doesn’t bother me because I see no conflict with my own traditions. What’s one more Solar hero reborn to bring light into the world at Solstice?

So yeah, the birth of Christ on Dec. 25th feels more Solstice than Christian to me.

Although the symbolism of having a dying tree nailed to a cross in my living room isn’t lost on me. (Note to self: if you’re going to continue this “get a tree” thing,  look into getting a live tree.)

So. I am thoroughly enjoying Christmas. Which is a bit of a revelation for me. Because for many years I divorced Christmas from Solstice, saying I only did Christmas for my family, and feeling vaguely guilty about enjoying it all all. What kind of a Pagan was I after all, participating in this orgy of crass commercialism, when all the true meaning is on the Solstice?

I’ve carried this ambivalence for many years, which has always left me feeling a bit like I’ve missed out on something. Not fully committed in spirit, I don’t fully participate. And then I feel on the outside of it all.

So I am reclaiming Christmas this year, and having a lovely time. I am owning that I want to fall on the festive side of the ambivalence and go ahead and really celebrate it.

I got a tree. (Which Winter named Harold. Because, you know. Harold be thy name.)  I bought gifts, or bartered, or gave something of mine that I thought suited another better. I did not incur debt. I only gave what I could, and what felt good. I planned a nice meal for what family can attend.  I used savings to buy gifts, and next year I will plan even better by saving specifically for Christmas. Which is easier to do once you realize you want to participate.

Christmas has plenty of traditions that hold meaning for me, and really is an extension of the Solstice. And I am a big fan of multi-day festivities, so seeing Christmas as “Second Solstice” works quite well for me. The Solstice is alive and well with the reborn solar hero, Santa and the reindeer, the World Tree, right there in our living rooms.

And the gift giving does not need to be based in crass commercialism. It can be about giving something from the heart. A small token that brings an unexpected sparkle to a loved-one’s life, something that’s special precisely because it wasn’t expected. A small gift that you made or that represents something you believe in, says “I took time out of my usual hustle and bustle to think about something that would bring a bit of joy into your life, and here it is”.  It doesn’t need to be expensive or even cost any money at all.   It can be about sharing the warmth in one’s heart, about sharing the abundance of one’s self with another.  A song or a poem, your awesome home-baked chocolate chip cookies. Some little part of what makes your life joyous, shared with a  loved one. In this way we give a piece of who we really are, and this makes our traditions more meaningful.

With just a little bit of exploration into why I was feeling sad about Christmas – which started with realizing I miss my dad (First Xmas after his passing) and ended with noticing how my own ambivalence has always made me feel like an outsider,  I have managed to reclaim Christmas for myself and make it something special. I don’t need to give up Christmas entirely now that my family is grown, scattered, or passed on. No, I can, and do, choose to do the exact opposite.

I am a Pagan who loves Christmas. So be it!



3 thoughts on “Musings on a Christ-free Christmas

  1. Yes, this exactly. Even as I stepped more fully into my pagan spirituality, I have never wanted to cut Christmas out of my calendar. I have so many fond associations from my childhood of celebrations with my immediate and extended family. My mom loves Christmas and decorating the tree and making cookies were always times we spent having fun as a family. I love the lights, the music, the special food and the spirit of love and good will that is possible at this time of year.

    For me Christmas is a time to celebrate love and light being reborn into the world. Time spent with loved ones, good food and gathering to share warmth and good times, making memories. The season starts for me around Solstice and goes through the New Year. I wish the whole world would give extended vacations like the school kids get so everyone could enjoy a long break. 🙂

  2. Hi there Max!

    Nice seeing you over here. And what a charming story! I love the idea of Christmas Spirit as a psychedelic. Just mild enough to still drive around and get the shopping done. Works for me!

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