I’ve been a bit of a Grinch at Christmas for a few years now. Although I’ve spent most of my life as a Christian, Christmas has always been a mostly-secular holiday for me. I used to read the bible from cover to cover and never found December 25, a winter birth, a Christmas tree, Santa or an elf. Of course, I loved all the pretty lights, gifts and festivities in my youth. However, when I was a single mom with a young child, without much time, money or help, the pressure to decorate and buy gifts could be oppressive.
While the holiday always felt festive to me, it fell short of spiritual even when I attended church. Lavish Christmas performances, charity drives and dinners felt more like a production or culmination of a year’s activities – more festive, than spiritual. And, the churches I attended didn’t address Jesus’s spring birth or the history of the holiday juxtaposed against the Roman pagan festival. We celebrated as if December 25 was really Jesus’s birthday with no acknowledgement of history or truth.
Beyond my dilemma of faith, was my daughter’s mid-December birthday chaos. I spent the first half of the month planning a birthday party to make her feel cherished. The second half was spent getting the house, tree, kitchen and wallet ready for “the season of giving.”
Selecting gifts for others is not a talent of mine. I also don’t really like receiving them. If I want something I can buy it myself. If you want to give me something, I prefer if you ask what I want, know what I want or treat me to an experience. If you’re not sure, cash is always king. Even in writing this, I know it sounds terribly unappreciative, but I’m confident I’m not the only one who feels this way. Holiday gift-giving is a quietly kept season of discomfort.
I still don’t know what to do with gifts that I don’t like. Should I give them to someone else in the hopes that they might like it? A grab bag or white elephant seems like the perfect burial plot for these unloved offerings. Today, someone suggested I donate them. Instead, they usually just contribute to my clutter struggle. In 2020 I vow to do better.
Trying to figure out what to give people fills me with angst. Giving gifts that people don’t want or don’t use and contributing to their clutter seems unkind. Receiving unwanted offerings with a smile to protect the giver’s feelings is awkward. Creating piles of trash for future recycling or transport to less-developed countries seems inevitable. The whole process feels crazy! It’s even crazier when it’s based on a Christian tradition that was never taught by Christ.
Then there are the holiday parties where people bring their spouses or significant others. It’s great if you have one of those, but if you’re like me and you don’t, it can be uncomfortable. What about people who don’t have families at all. How must the holidays feel for them? Well, enough about my Grinchy tendencies, what do the holidays mean to you?
Is it a time to practice your faith?
To connect with friends and family?
Or a time to volunteer for others in need?
People say families get together for weddings and funerals – the holiday season is another ideal time for gatherings.
If all these wonderful things CAN happen during the holiday season, why stop there?
I encourage to you to enjoy the qualities of a good holiday season year-round: connection with friends, family and community; expression of spirituality and generous giving.
I also encourage you to give up the least attractive aspects of the season: judging others (for their religion, decorations, family, lifestyle, traditions, gifts, etc.), mindless shopping and clutter-building, overspending to impress others and reinforcement of a white savior Jesus or Santa. (Yes, I just said that.)
Today I bought a kinara for the first time and I’m sending out Kwanzaa cards. I’ve acknowledged Kwanzaa over the years; I even wrote about it in my book, Chocolate Souffle, but I’ve never gone all out. If you’re not familiar with the holiday, it is a week-long secular African-American holiday founded by Maulana Karenga in 1966. Over the course of seven days between Christmas and New Year’s we celebrate Umoja (Unity), Kujichaguilia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). Hand-made or educational gifts may be exchanged. This year it truly resonates with my soul and captures the essence of what I want to manifest in this next decade.
However you spend your holidays, I wish you Freedom, Alignment and Effortless Abundance!
P.S. This photo is of the kinara I purchased today from Afrocentric Network here in Atlanta. I picked up a bunch of other Afrocentric goodies while I was there. Check them out at iamafrocentric.com. The symbol is “Nyame Biribi Wo Soro” which translates to “God is in the Heavens,” and is a symbol of Hope. If you want to give a creative gift, check out my new client special. For only $49 you can give the gift of wellness in the form of yoga, meditation, reiki or self-actualization coaching. The gift recipient gets to chose. Use this link to purchase.