The Holidays Are Over.
In my own life, the celebration of Christmas is a balancing act. It’s part of my cultural tradition, with trees and colored lights and stockings filled by Santa Claus. My growing Christian leadings, aka my attempts to follow Jesus, would not include hanging unnecessary electric lights or monocropping evergreen trees or consuming excess sugar and chocolate.
My adopted religious tradition leans on the side of no celebration at all. But I think the essential Quaker witness is about not using empty forms and calling it worship. So I’m still experimenting with which cultural practices seem harmless and bring me and my family joy, and which are actually pernicious, even if they bring us momentary happiness.
I’ve had a pretty minimal, handmade, practical approach to gift-giving for years. Mostly for economic reasons, but it coincides nicely with my ecological concerns. For example, last year I gave a lot of hats I crocheted out of organic cotton yarn.
Some of my leading is just toward moderation, in sugar cookies, in busyness, in hanging Christmas lights. For next year, I may not do all the things I did this year, which was a lot more than I did last year, but this was a good experiment in finding our own balance between participating in culture and following Jesus out of our cultural expectations.
The key I think is to seek what brings me/us strength and Light and to give up what makes us feel vaguely guilty. That niggling sense is worth paying attention to. As in so many things, Quakers, and not just Quakers, know better than we do. We can do better. On Holy Days and in Ordinary Time.
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