Whether you participate
in the holiday activities or not there's bound to be
some level of stress. One might think it odd that stress can come from
participating in holiday activities but let me tell you the peer
intense. My husband and I don't participate in secular manifestations of
winter holidays. It's not that we're all "Bah Humbug" about it it's both
economical and philosophical that we celebrate in ways that are not
All the activities that take place around us are made up by somebody a
long time ago. Retail businesses have a vested interest in making us
feel the need to spend money. Family gatherings can have their stressful
moments because often it is like the old saying, "God made your friends
and the Devil made your relatives."
Just as all the holiday activities and the expectations that when not
to disappointment, we can free ourselves from being slaves to
expectations we absorb from our cultural environment. We can make our
own traditions. When my two younger sons were little we held "Happy
Birthday, Jesus!" parties. A regular birthday party where we celebrated
the birth of Jesus. Our "gifts" for giving were watching movies, reading
books, and talking about the teachings of Jesus and yes, we're Muslims.
It's difficult not to be exposed to all the Christmas energy, so we'd
participate in ways that fit in with our beliefs. We would make
ornaments to hang from the ceiling in a tree shape since we couldn't
afford to buy a tree. There's family activities like making cookies with
the children so they have something to do and learn how to cook in the
process. I'd sneak in learning about fractions by cutting the recipes in
half. "So if we need 3/4ths cup of sugar and we're only making half a
batch of these cookies, how much sugar do we really need?"
Since my older sister and her family had more money to spend on the gift
giving I figured I'd take my sons over there to visit the day after
Christmas or a couple of days after, so they didn't feel bad during the
"Shark Frenzy" of gift unwrapping that they weren't a part of. The
secular manifestations of Christmas are hard on the poor. So I opted out
because of economical reasons. That didn't mean we couldn't have fun or
celebrate the birth of Jesus. It didn't mean we couldn't give our
energies to those who were more poor than we were. It meant we needed to
rethink the whole process and celebrate in a way that left us feeling
enriched in our hearts.
We, my younger sons and I, created our own winter holiday tradition. One
of them was reviewing the icons of the secular manifestation of
Christmas and trace them back to their pre-Christian roots.
Where did the yule log come from?
"The origins of the Yule Log can be traced back to the Midwinter
which the Norsemen indulged..."
Why do we bring trees into the house?
Where did Santa Claus/Father Christmas come from?
Where does Winter Solstice come into the picture?
"Christmas combines Christian religious ceremonies with traditions and
customs mainly influenced by ancient winter festivals, such as Yule and
Saturnalia. Popular secular traditions include emphasis on themes such
as family, goodwill, giving and compassion."
Who the heck brought in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer? 1939 Montgomery
Ward department stores created him.
The celebration of Christmas wasn't done in the early days of America.
It was considered pagan and a vestige of Popary. As late as 1847 there
Christmas holidays in American colleges.
It's all made up out of the brains of those pesky humans of the past.
We can make up our own celebrations based on what time, energy, funds
and values we have. If spending money is out of the question then
volunteering to feed the homeless at a soup kitchen would be a wonderful
way to realize that being poor is really relative. If your family makes
you crazier than you are left to your own devices, there's a lot of old
folks at nursing homes who never get a visitor at all. Even a visit from
a stranger, on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, someone to talk to,
someone who is willing to hold your hand, that's a gift that's worth a
million dollars to someone who is lonely. I visit my elderly Jewish
neighbors on Christmas, sit and kibitz with them for a while. That's my
gift to them.
The best gift we can give is our love, time, energy and compassion. It's
that can be re-gifted without guilt. It's a gift that grows each time
passed along. As for me, I'm making cookies to give to my neighbors. My
family knows I opted out of the Frenzy of Christmas in a secular way. My
Mother-in-Law, who I cc'd on this post, and I will exchange email
celebrating her Savior. Hi Mommy Michal! It's a time for reflection,
love and kindness. We made up our own traditions that fit in our budget
and our beliefs.
So if you're finding yourself stressed out this holiday season check the
below and they'll help you gain some sense of control and calm in your
All this is my winter holiday gift to all of you and it is given with
love I have for all of you.