It’s a lazy post-gorging tryptophan-sleepy kind of day. And I want to say something about “The Holidays”. Which is that you have a choice about how you do them.
I know a lot of people don’t like “The Holidays”. They get depressed, or overwhelmed, or burned out, or just hate the whole thing.
I get it. I have my share of family drama stories and I could bitch about a lot of things.
But I’ve realized that I don’t have to do any of it. And what I do can be entirely up to me.
Now it’s true that I had a head-start. My family is a lot less tradition-based than most. I grew up celebrating Solstice, not Christmas. I also don’t have kids that go to public school and demand Santa Claus and all of that.
But still. I live in the world. And I don’t participate in things I don’t like. And you don’t have to either.
But beyond that, I try to create what I want. Which I think is the more fun, enjoyable, and exciting thing to do. Rather than just protesting and griping and resisting, or bowing out.
Because holidays can be fun. They can be sacred. They can be rejuvenating. They have a purpose. A life-giving, holy purpose.
The word “holiday” is short for Holy Day. But what does that mean to you?
I think I look at holidays differently because of my stint with Wicca.
Wicca is all about making up stuff that works for you.
Wicca celebrates eight holidays that most people have never heard of–and because you are consciously choosing to celebrate these days outside of the mainstream, a lot of emphasis is placed on the reasons behind holidays.
Holidays mark the passing of time and bring awareness to it. They are about the turning of the seasons, the flow of life, taking time to pause and notice, acknowledge, and celebrate that we are alive.
And since Wicca is full of people who wear capes and make up their whole damn religion–they make up whatever rituals they want to use to celebrate. Sure, there are traditional things–May poles at Beltane, etc–and they borrow a lot from history. But mostly they make stuff up.
The essence of Wicca, to me, is that we can create our relationship to the Divine, the one that works for us. The one that speaks to us of magic, mystery, and meets the deepest longings of our heart to know the Divine, to know ourselves, and to know each other.
I bring that idea to holidays.
They are my holidays. They don’t belong to anyone else.
They are about my relationship to the season, to my family, to my friends. They are about what I want to celebrate and notice this year.
Holidays are what we make them. They are for us.
It’s hard to do this in a culture that has a lot of prescriptions–and perhaps your family does too. But to the degree that you can make your holidays about what you want to get out of them, you can reclaim the original purpose and enjoy them again.
Yesterday I hosted my first Thanksgiving ever, at my brand new condo. My brother and his wife and son came (Wow. Five year olds have lungs. And stamina.)
When my brother gave me a hug and congratulated me on my first Thanksgiving at my home, and my new homeownership, I felt this deep relaxation in my body. I felt happy. I felt proud. I felt deeply seen and celebrated. And there was something about it being Thanskgiving that really meant a lot to me.
There is something we deeply need in holidays. It’s about acknowledgment. It’s about taking time to pause and notice what is special about life.
And that is something we don’t do enough in our culture. We go from one task to the next, one accomplishment to the next, one project to the next. We don’t stop and say wow, look how amazing. Let’s just sit here and be happy about everything that we’ve done and everything that is awesome about life right now.
And we need that. We really, really do.
I get that holidays can suck. But they don’t have to. Reclaiming your autonomy is the first step.
The problem with “The Holidays” is not the celebration itself. It’s that the human needs that holidays meets have been obscured and forgotten through generations of encouraging anything-but creativity and autonomy and true connection.
Holidays have lost their center, for a lot of people. They have become about expectations and standards and overwhelm and doing a lot of stuff you hate or don’t want to do but feel you have to do because people expect you to do it and you don’t have a choice. Blech.
There is no way to get in touch with Divinity, and community, play, and creativity, if you are coming from I Don’t Have a Choice About This.
Holidays were designed to meet real human needs of community, acknowledgment, sharing, play, and celebration of life.
But our expectations, and our dread of them, make meeting those needs impossible.
So, reclaiming your autonomy is the first step. And whatever helps you do that, I support.
Even if it means you skip holidays completely for a few years. Or skip the family part. It’s up to you. Do what you need to do, to stop participating in life-denying expressions of holiday-ness. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Autonomy is a hard thing to reclaim, it really is. It takes work and courage to say no to things people want you to say yes to. And it might be too big of a leap to go from wherever you are with holidays to making up a whole new way of doing holidays for yourself.
So, start where you are.
But I would encourage you to, in some small way, find an avenue to make something about “the Season” about celebrating your own connection to your essence, to the Divine, to the mystery of being alive, and to noticing how far you’ve come in the last year and how awesome you are.
Celebrate what is Real and True.
Maybe this year it’s about making up an Anti-Christmas. If that is where you are at, that is what you can celebrate.
Maybe it is about Rest for you. Being in the winter, in the season of rest and fallow-ness, creating down-time and relishing it, hanging out in the deep earthy spaces in your soul, letting yourself be there, acknowledging that winter is a slowing-down, turning-in season.
The point is: it’s your holiday. You can make it your own. You can make it about meeting YOUR needs for celebration, connection, community, creativity, and acknowledgement. In the way that works for you.