You may feel that Christmas is a license to eat and drink too much, and yet the idea of transcending ordinary limits has been part of solstice celebrations for hundreds of years. You don’t have to go to literal extremes, but you can stretch your personal rules, based on the idea of days or weeks set aside to celebrate an important aspect of life.
The celebration of Christmas can be meaningless and maddening, especially if you don’t have access to its deep layers of history and symbolism. You may feel frantic looking for gifts, rather than understanding that gift-giving is a way of being in family, friendship, and community, and that Christmas is a time for modeling a Utopian gift economy.
Step outside of ordinary time: be of good cheer, give some real gifts, make some good food, and spend more time than usual with friends and family. The best way to deal with the exhaustion of the holidays is not to withdraw but to enter them thoughtfully. Decorate a tree, knowing that its symbolism reaches deep. String some lights, appreciating that light is the main theme of the season.
Christmas is a time that invites you to reflect on the most important issues in life, especially escaping the darkness of ignorance and arriving at the light of new understanding and possibility, according to US-based Prof. Thomas Moore, author of The Soul of Christmas. In the book, he lays out the heart of the Christmas theological message: Live in two worlds that overlap but are distinct. Don’t be a materialist, but don’t sacrifice your ordinary physical life for any spiritual ideal. Be lowly and lofty.
Isn’t that why so many people of different backgrounds are drawn to Christmas—because they see the natural symbols and basic realities celebrated at this time of year?
If you can get past the anxieties in arranging for gifts and parties, you will rediscover yourself every year at this time and experience a birth in yourself, just like the one so beautifully described in the Gospel stories.
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The CSR Journal Team