I have been through the wringer of the washtub of life, as far as ‘work’ goes for some time – as my health, stamina and strength improved, I dove back into old habits – basically, workaholism.
It’s NOT that I don’t appreciate and know how to stop and smell the roses…
It’s simply because I realized a long time ago….
One lifetime just isn’t enough to do and try and learn all I wish to.
Apparently, during my healing hiatus from Life, courtesy a stroke in 2011, nothing has changed much – I’m still lured to try to ‘do it all’ – maybe even more so, now that I realize, my time may be even shorter than I imagined, in those days, when I wished to be done and it wasn’t granted and I had only the day to figure out how I was going to keep myself entertained, until I could (hopefully) go to bed and ‘wake up’ Done.
Dark, I know. Especially during this season of human thought Light that we generate to keep our spirits up when the Light from above, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, isn’t quite up to our desires….
Christmas – a big deal and maybe, not the deal you thought it was –
I’ve carefully cultivated a local persona of “Grinch” – because anytime I’m in earshot of conversations about how the Christ has been taken out of Christmas and how America was FOUNDED upon this religion and holiday –
I can’t help myself…
“Um…nope, don’t think so” I open and then go on to say:
America was founded by those seeking respite from religious persecution –
(P.S. – along with the rag-a-tag poor people who were dragging down the neighborhood in Continental communities, younger sons who had nothing to lose by trying but everything to gain and, often, the latest batch of convicts to help empty out overstocked prisons and towers…but that’s another whole post….)
Let’s just consider the possibility (and in some circles, fact) that the first religious souls who fled to this new, wild, hard continent didn’t even celebrate Christmas –
First because they were just trying to stay alive, but, once they had a little security, they remembered the celebrations they were familiar with from their homelands either smacked of holier-than-thou hypocrites they’d spent years being harassed/tortured and killed by and/or secular activities that resembled what I think I would encounter if I ever spent Mardi Gras in New Orleans, New Years Eve in Times Square or just about any holiday in Las Vegas.
A festival full of debauchery, bad behavior and drunks – pagan stuff, ya know? 🙂
It also appears that despite so many being really hooked on December 25th as Jesus’s Birthday, increasing numbers of theologians, astronomers, astrologers, biblical scholars, archeologists, anthropologists and historians (and maybe your local bartender/barista) all seem to agree –
Most likely not – Probably happened in March/April time frame, really –
There’s some disagreement between those who tell time by the heavens and those who tell time by the Gregorian calendar and those who track the sun, tilt of the planet, climate change and just when shepherds would have been out in the fields tending flocks – but yup, they all look to Spring as being most likely.
I’m not really sure what ‘facts’ bartenders/baristas quote – but sure it’s a mixture of the above – When I worked those jobs, quite frankly, ANY STORY would do when I had signed up for hospitality service and ended up wearing my therapist hat for those who felt disappointed by ‘the season’ and what they thought it should/would be….
In addition to early Puritans, and growing evidence we might be ‘wrrrronnnggg’ on the birthday, there were also a lot of Americans that were rather put out in the decades after the Revolutionary War, over the fact there were so few winter holidays – –
Seems as a nation, (and, at least to the public eye) we decided we weren’t going to CELEBRATE anything the British did – just for pure pleasure of knowing we won and are now too independent to hold onto such colonial ways.
I’m certain there were some rebels who got drunk and engaged in gluttony, just the same – they had to wait for ‘child centered’ parenting trends, Prince Albert’s Christmas Tree and Madison 5th Avenue to bring them Rudolph, so they could celebrate in the open, more respectably….
I’ve also came into contact with theories that say the Victorian Christmas Americans first came to know and love as an ideal in the 1800’s was written by a guy who had never been to England and didn’t really know much about reality in an English Country Manor – he did, however, have a grand dream of what Christmas could be…
In short – We made it up as we went along
Doesn’t mean it ain’t a grand story – an ideal to aspire to – heck, we adopted the Declaration of Independence with all it’s grand ideals and sometimes we aspire to live up to them and sometimes we settle for less…
I guess my little blasphemous detour of thoughts really boils down to this:
Christmas and our ideal of Christmas is just that – an ideal to aspire to – a reminder that light dispels the dark – whether via a candle, the smile of a loved one or the hope and faith held in one’s heart.
Trying to package this nebulous ideal into something that can be bought, expressed in words, controlled through strict protocol of events or restrictions on just HOW it is celebrated, is, to my mind, rather ludicrous.
We really ought to open our arms to not only Christmas, but the numerous other holidays that pepper the winter season…
Why, you ask?
Cuz cabin fever, sunlight deprivation and unrealistic expectations rather drive humans crazy – we need some food, fun, and community to return us to the path of our better angels.
Otherwise, we just get cranky and not much fun to be around while waiting for the sun to warm and bless us again.
In areas that don’t experience perpetual summer/temperate climates – well, before modern conveniences, you just huddled down, all crowded, to keep warm – sometimes, you were mighty hungry come January or February – and the bossy elder of the tribe also snored so loud, ya couldn’t get a good night’s sleep – whether you and your mama had your kerchiefs on or not – Thus, our ancestors were most likely sleep deprived, too –
All of the above ingredients are the recipe for one individual (or a group) to snap – maybe some in the tribe got greedy and took more than their fair share of the harvest – maybe a neighboring tribe was on vacation all summer and are now eyeing your reserves and thinking you’re an easy target – maybe they were certain war would break out if Olga slurped and smacked her way through a wooden cup of bone broth, just one more time….
Who knows what straw will break Ye Olde Camels Back?
Winter celebrations, regardless of how we choose to celebrate….
are, to my mind, deeply rooted in our DNA – it’s about the will to survive to see another spring. Without going crazy, killing or nit-picking each other to death when cold, hunger and illness has us hunkering down in close quarters, instead of having some space and grace to sleep out under the stars away from all the yakkity-yaks or snorer’s of the tribe.
Because come springtime, we really will depend on the extra hands and help from those in our tribe to gather in the abundance, preserve and store it, so we may all survive NEXT winter, too.
I like to think our ancestors were pretty tough and smart – they came up with a slew of holiday celebrations and just adopted new ones whenever they came into contact with the opportunity to do so.
They knew another feast when there was plenty or sitting around keeping warm while singing, sharing and caring, when rations were short, was the way to ride out the long, cold, dark days of restricted freedom and pesky irritations.
Have we lost the ability to celebrate, share warmth and what bounty there is? Have we gotten a tad too rigid in what’s ‘accepted/expected’ and what’s not.?
I think probably so. For if we were still open to celebrating staying alive all winter, any way we could, we’d be on vacation from first blizzard till the first chinook winds arrived in spring and…though I’m not a fan, or follower, pretty certain, if we were still open-minded to winterfest, Superbowl Sunday would have been declared a national holiday, ages ago.
Happy Hanukah, Winter Solstice, Festivus, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, and about 1,000 others that have been integrated into the preceding or lost to the pages of time. (Saturnalia celebrants? You get your pick – December or New Year’s Eve or Mardi Gras…. 🙂 )
May you spend the last of December warm & and full of hope that you, too, shall survive to aspire to your ideals for 2018 – it could happen – 2018 brings (here) the double chance to do so – for I’m told, “Once in a Blue Moon”, this year, means you really only have to wait a couple of months and you get your ‘once in a blue moon’, yet again!