The holidays are upon us.
This is always a weird time of year for me.
I don’t really care about Thanksgiving – some years I anti-care about it (I get indigent on behalf of Native Americans), some years I just don’t care, and some years I get a weird wistful feeling. I don’t eat turkey, I don’t eat bacon, I don’t like to stuff myself into a food coma. I’m not into parades – and I’m sure not going to shop on Black Friday. I’m not insane.
And as a witch, I don’t celebrate Christmas. This has been a source of contention between me and my family for over a decade. It often feels like they’ll at least respect my spirituality for 11 months of the year, but come Christmas, all bets are off. I get haggled about it. I get frustrated, they get frustrated. Nothing good comes of it. As my son has grown older, the pressure has eased, but not completely dissipated.
We’ve got our own set of traditions – we celebrate Yule on December 21st. Pace and I often create a treasure hunt quest adventure for the boy. We have a Yule log in the fireplace. We spend extra time together, nourishing our connections. We’ve started to make travel part of our tradition; last year, we went to Ireland. This year, we’re going west.
And come Christmas, we get a few days where everything is either closed or extremely crowded. It’s just another day for us.
We do our own thing, both on Thanksgiving and over the winter holiday.
It’s interesting, being pagan on Christmas. I wonder if Jews go through the same thing, of people being weird about their traditions, of minimizing them, of treating them like Hanukkah is less valid than Christmas. We get it – and not just from family. It’s the one time of the year that I get really puffed up about being a witch. People say “Merry Christmas!” instead of “goodbye” or “have a nice day.” I retort, “Happy Yule!” but only about one in ten people even knows what Yule is.
As the world gets smaller and our monkeyspheres diversify, it’s less common for our holiday choices to be utterly railroaded, but I’m still surprised by the lack of respect shown for people who celebrate something other than Christmas. People look at me like I’m insane when I talk about Yule. People have actually backed away from me – I kid you not – when I said, “I don’t celebrate Christmas.” (I followed it up with, “Don’t worry, it’s not contagious. You can still celebrate it.”)
I keep hoping that the winter holidays, so loudly lauded as the time for peace on earth and goodwill toward all, will eventually mean goodwill toward all and not just goodwill toward fellow Christmas-celebrators. Every holiday season finds me full of hope, that this year will be different. That maybe, this time, we’ll find a way for the Pagans and the Christians (not to mention all the other groups who celebrate in their own way – or not at all) to get along, to find connection, to love each other.
It’s what Jesus would want for us, all year round – but especially on his birthday. If he’s like me at all, he gets super excited about his birthday. And what a wonderful present it would be for him – for us to set aside our differences and just love each other.
Just this once.