It’s down to days now before this year’s calendar comes off my kitchen wall and slips into the recycle bin. A booklet signalling a lengthy series of steps on a journey through time. When these days grow short and sun is low, I tend to go live more hours in my inner spaces. December is often the month when I pull in even deeper. The stores become filled with frenzied shoppers, carting out extra food and shiny packages, while outdoors so many trees have lost their decor and stand empty-looking and lost, like camels out of place in a manger scene.
At Christmas I struggle to retain my identity. The amount of preparation for the celebrating and feasting, the gathering and treasuring, continues to swell each year with more memories from my past that seem to blot out my ability to grasp the moment. I’m full of rich food and recollections of earlier years when the day finally rolls around. Rather than obtain midnight clarity with shiny-star purpose, I become flooded with the tinsel and sparkle of temporary sensation. I always like the day of Christmas when it gets here, but all the hoopla that I must wade through while waiting for it to arrive makes me somewhat weary. Following along with the traditions for a month circumvents me from my own instinctive path. The pattern of thinking I normally entertain becomes disrupted with odd, disingenuous patterns from removed times and places.
The traditional symbols and images the culture has handed down to me–from the ancient nativity to this present clear moment in eternity–can be so inspiring, so engaging, so mesmerizing. They can fix a point in past time and decorate it with such significance that I feel compelled to keep the birth of Christ in heart and mind. I get that part of the celebration, because it resonates with who I understand myself to be. I am dependent on the cultural hand-me-downs of tradition, as well as the upbringing through years when I was empty of reason and open to persuasion. When the season rolls around and asks of me that I step out and forget my own personal journey for a spell, to see that the whole world is coming to agreement on meeting and purpose in living, my instinct tells me to be guardedly suspicious. I feel disabled in a swelling hysteria when I listen to all our modern cultural trappings that we term “the Christmas season”.
The early years, when I was less than ten, were the best Christmas seasons. How could I have known that then? I wish somebody had told me, so that I might savor them more carefully. Maybe it also that way with our calendar. Perhaps the best Christmas years were those closest to the special event? A tree, candle, meal, blessing–that is enough outward celebration to prevent me from compromising inner sanctity.
This year I travel to Kauai for Christmas, to be with some holiday daughters that have managed to elude the funky weather associated with the season. Celebrating in the tropics will be new to my experience. I expect that it will improve my borderline humbug attitude. I may even enjoy Hawaiian caroling: