What Christmas is to me

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Christmas time is here again, and up from our world rises all sorts of activity.

This is a day that takes us out of our daily routine and throws most of us in some kind of tizzy and/or celebration. That in itself truly deserves pondering.

Christmas is a day that stirs people up, and for many a time of unmet expectations and additional stress. Emotions can run a-muck from joy to depression, love, hate, peace and animosity.

I find it absolutely fascinating that this single day can evoke so much controversy. To some, the very word "Christmas" is offensive.

As I listen to the debate of which Christmas phrase is most appropriate I almost feel like opting out. People will be offended if I wish them a Merry Christmas. Some find Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings too impersonal and empty.

I personally still like Merry Christmas the best – I was raised up during a time when this greeting was taken at face value and meant just that.

Venturing into the Mall to pick up a few small gifts, I braced myself for the retailer's racket. SALE! SPIN the DISCOUNT WHEEL! THE PERFECT GIFT! THE GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING! Retailers clasping their hands in excitement as they capitalize on the message that Christmas is all about gifts and Santa. Is this Christmas?

At Safeway, feeling a sense of excitement and relief as I purchased the last few items for my Christmas Turkey Dinner I observed how many people were visibly stressed. "Family is coming over and dinner has to be perfect!" Others seemingly were reveling in the excitement of the festivities, possibly getting a day or two off work, or looking forward to connecting with loved ones in celebration. Is THIS Christmas?

At one point I wanted to block out the noise of it ALL: to be politically correct, to buy, to give, to cook, to eat, to be happy – I stop and ask myself this question: if I don't personally truly buy into all that noise, what am I celebrating? What is Christmas to me?

The first thing that comes to mind is what I strongly feel Christmas is NOT:

Christmas is not a time to be judgmental or get defensive about how others choose to spend this day. It's not about pointing fingers or determining who/what is right or wrong. It is neither about shoving one's own faith, beliefs and reasons for celebration or non-celebration down others throats. It is not about the gifts or the food. It's not even specifically about family and friends.

To me, Christmas runs much deeper than that, it is truly magical and a mystery of sorts. I "feel" Christmas in my heart.

To me, Christmas feels like hope, and peace. It feels like people, respecting people, non-judgmental, non-defensive, living for a moment in the truth that we are all alive, together, living on one planet. It feels like each of us celebrating our own faith without fear, reproach, or apology. To me it feels like the magical story of baby Jesus in a manger and the harmonious sounds of music sung by a choir.

To me Christmas feels like, although we are a people of many faiths and colors, rich and poor, strong and weak, loud and quiet, we have enough common ground to lay down our differences for this festive season and live in peace and brotherly love. We are all flesh and blood, inhaling and exhaling a mysterious life force. We have hearts that beat and feel. Christmas feels like we are all fearfully and wonderfully made, complex creatures, and is grounds enough for us to live in peace during this season and all year long.

While I do enjoy the Christmas festivities, the gift giving, turkey dinner and spending times with loved ones, I am also aware that all this, without love and respect for one another, is meaningless.

So for this year, from me to you, I sincerely wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. May your heart be filled with wonderment, joy, peace and love for one another this season and in the seasons to follow.

Posted in Jen Unplugged

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