At this busy time of the year, I wish you a happy and safe festive season.
Over the years I’ve become increasingly aware of multifaceted celebrations that arise from personal beliefs. This was especially highlighted in the short period of time I spent living in the London nearly ten years ago.
It came to light with a bang, literally, when London’s horizons sparkled with fireworks that celebrated Diwali and Eid. My husband and I watched random celebrations for about a month around about October and November light up backyards as close as our neighbour’s to those in the far distance.
I also learnt how strange particular customs are to some. I distinctly recall one student in a school I was at in south London saying something like, it can’t be Christmas if it doesn’t snow, after I’d shared about my Western Australian traditions celebrated in our blistering heat. (I wonder if it will be hot this year. The forecast is for a wet Christmas Day.)
Another child asked what would happen if Santa wasn’t real. He was struggling with whole notion of the jolly character. Would we get any presents? So much of what I’d been raised with and took for granted was utterly new to some students.
With festivals so commonplace in our city now – whether they are religious or not – there is an ongoing and heightened hype to be on the bandwagon of selling and buying. Selling to celebrate. Buying to celebrate.
I know I am not alone in rueing the commercialized demise of the simplicity of celebrating one’s beliefs, whatever they may be.
With the tradition of family togetherness and with gifts that are supposedly meant to represent the gift of life given by the central figure of the Christian tradition, I see less joy and more stress in so many people’s eyes as they comply with current expectations to give as they pile their shopping trolleys high.
So what do I celebrate at this time of the year?
I celebrate family
As a family we choose to celebrate this traditional festive time throughout the year. If we see a little something another might like and if it is affordable, we may buy the gift and give it to the person next time we see them – no expectations though. I hear fervent traditionalists decry the notion, yet I know it means we focus on the spirit of love throughout the year and let the commercialism slide away.
At this time of the year we make a point of catching up with those we haven’t seen recently. We give a little something – often a long held hug – if we haven’t seen each other for some time.
For those who cannot travel to join us on tradition’s designated days we make a point of catching up throught the year, as often as possible and we remind each other how much we are loved.
If visits are not possible for whatever reason, we keep in touch through the ever-convenient channels open to us these day via social media. This is my last recourse but in some instances it’s the only way we can be in touch to let a family member or friend know we are thinking of them.
I celebrate friendships
In the bustle and flurry of everyday life I seek to slow down and remember those whose paths have crossed my life. The festive season is a good opportunity to send that note of thanks or to simply say ‘hi’ and let that person know I am thinking about them. Some may slip through the net and I can only hope they are the ones I’ve been in touch with throughout the year.
I celebrate as I take stock
… not of the contents of supermarket shelves but of how fortunate I am to have family and friends who I love in my life.
As I quietly celebrate this festive season
I wish you good health and happiness
peace of heart and mind
throughout the year to come
and the next one
and the next …