Originally posted at the former Chicago Moms Blog on Dec 4, 2010
A Never-ending December
I had an interesting conversation the other day. A fellow mother and I were talking about the impending holiday season and all that it included. Presents! Shopping! Carols! Parties! The good and the bad. The sweet and the tedious.
"I'm just so furious that they won't allow the manger scene in the White House!" * she proclaimed.
I hadn't heard that they had decided upon this, but wasn't really surprised. I mean, you can't get any more religious than the manger scene. And to incorporate it in the capital which represents EVERYone, and in a country which has a "separation of church and state" may not be a good representation of the whole of the USA. I said as much to which she huffed,
"Christmas is about the BIRTH of CHRIST. That's all! There isn't anything else to it. If you don't believe in the birth of Christ, then you shouldn't be celebrating Christmas!!"
Not wanting to offend her, I acknowledged that I had been raised a Catholic but am now someone who follows her own beliefs, none of which are written down by any man or religious affiliation. I told her that I still celebrate Christmas, but in the knowledge that for me, it isn't just about a virgin birthing a baby in a barn. Not for me. Not for many people. For many people (even many Christians) Christmas has morphed into a holiday focused on the idea that an entire population can be centered on peace and goodwill. The holiday season isn't just about the religious aspects anymore than it is just about the purchasing of many gifts. December is, (for most Americans) a season of goodwill, generosity, and attempting to be a better person. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the New Year are all to blame for that. These holidays encourage us all to center our energy and hopes on the idea that we CAN be kinder and gentler people.
There is definitely something magical about this time of year, no matter what your religious or spiritual beliefs. The magic (for me) exists not in the words I have read in a book, but in the joy and hope I see upon the faces of those I love.
I hope that we can all remember to focus upon the similarities that mankind possesses this holiday season. If we can just acknowledge how monumentally SIMILAR we all are, instead of our small differences of opinion and culture, perhaps every month could be like December...
* FYI, according to SNOPES, the rumor my friend had heard is false. There are still religious decorations and ornaments in the White House this holiday season. I wonder which religions are represented...