Even the act of not celebrating by Jehovah's Witnesses is a form of spiritual celebration. While all around them are the colors, music, events and decorations of many different faiths, the absence of these things in their lives defines their beliefs. I find it wonderful in its simplicity.
That is, I now find it wonderful. I spent many years thinking it was weird. Those poor kids never believing in Santa Clause or getting gifts for the eight days of Chanukah or celebrating Yule in a sacred circle or attending a beautiful Christmas Eve Mass! I knew they must be so miserable.
Likewise I spent many years aghast at the excesses of those with over-the-top lights and trees and parties. Stores that began their hype before Thanksgiving were disgusting. Extreme consumerism turned my stomach, making me feel quite smug at my more reasonable approach (although looking at photos of past Christmas mornings I don't know just how reasonable it was). People who go into huge credit card debt to bury their tree in packages were stupid and short-sighted. I knew they were just trying to fill some huge emptiness in their lives.
When I worked for the government I understood the prohibition against decorating for the holidays. Even if your intent is Santa Claus, some will claim the law requiring separation of church and state is not being followed with Christmas decor. However, when I went to work for a private organization we were encouraged to decorate for the holidays, and all beliefs were welcome by the employer. Our official greeting was "Happy Holidays". I knew they were just being politically correct.
There are some real eye-opening moments when you are called to a path that includes taking responsibility for yourself. Among those moments for me was realizing I didn't know squat about any of this stuff. I didn't know a single Jehovah's Witness, let alone how their childhood was. I had no clue what motivated gigantic light displays. I never noticed how many fellow shoppers were singing along to carols in October. I was unaware of the reduction in the use of sick leave at my job during the holidays.
In the past few years I've come to realize, and enjoy, that there is plenty of room for every type of holiday celebration, including the simplicity of non-celebration. Multiple religions hold this time of year as holy - how great is that?! I'm grateful for those who go to the trouble and expense so I can just drive around the neighborhood to enjoy all the beautifully lighted homes. Christmas displays beside ghosts and jack-o-lanterns is a bit silly. But silly is just funny, not something horrible. Many reasonable and organized folks are delighted to have their shopping done before Thanksgiving, and I think they're on to something there! I don't have to pay anyone else's credit card bill, so why do I care if the amount is high?
|Wow. Thanks for all your hard work!|
Finally, being "politically correct" is like so many things that start out with good intentions, and get abused by a few over-zealous folks. Not using slurs to describe someone or their religious beliefs or cultural practices is common courtesy. Giving up any non-harmful practice because someone might be offended isn't even common sense.
|A loving greeting is not offensive|
It's easy to find fault with the actions of others without taking a look at our own. I was certainly guilty of that for years. Today I find myself blessed with a broader perspective, one that allows for more holiday joy. Sometimes that joy even starts in October.........
|See? Lots of room :-)|
Even the shortest day of the year is a big deal, a holy day, and reason for celebration. Blessed Yule everyone - may the lengthening days bring light and love to your life.