Freshness. Reflection. Hope. Celebration.
This is what Christmas is to me now.
Freshness comes with cleansing. Before the rebirth, things must first die. But beautifully, wholly, like the snow-covered mountains painted across our horizons in the west. But instead of focusing on the presently hidden nature of life, I see it as a promise of what’s to come.
Last Christmas was our second one as atheists. The first? Stifling, meaningless, tragic. But I was beginning to emerge in my new self our second Christmas, and we started the simple but incredibly meaningful tradition of gathering around the tree, sipping eggnog (or a different favorite drink), and under the twinkling lights of the tree and our newly lit candles, we reflected upon the favorite and not-so-favorite memories of the past year as we took turns writing them down in a special journal. Reflection is powerful. It reveals our strength, our endurance, our veracity. It reveals how meaningful life can be. And it brings up that which can be improved in a healthy, nostalgic way.
Reflection automatically ushers in newness, and thus hope. There is hope in death. Hope in winter. A New Year would be impossible without first experiencing Christmas. There is hope in a clean start. New beginnings. And I think it not coincidental that “Christmas” falls right on the time of winter solstice. The days only get brighter, literally and figuratively, from here. Sun will come. It WILL come. So much expectance, wonder, and joy to excite as 2016 nears. Every year brings promises. And promises beget hope.
And we celebrate. We celebrate with family. With generosity. With meaningful, intentional, authentic sharing of life with the people that mean the most to us. We celebrate with warm drinks. Spicy smells. Engaging our senses inside warm homes and bundling up to brave the crisp outdoors. We celebrate with sparkling laughter. With delicious food. And with long toasts into the night. We honor life with our experiencing it as fully as we can. Because life itself is the only thing worth celebrating.