It’s the holiday season, which — in case you missed the obvious — has become something of a corporate wet dream, a marketing franchise beginning mid-September and ending mid-March, when the presidential white sales have petered out. It’s an emotional roller coaster of frenetic frivolity and family anxiety, of pressure to pick just the right gift for the beloved(s), which you may well have purchased on-line in the consumption glut of Black Friday and the cyber-hype that followed. It’s the season when government comes to a halt so that politicians can go home and have cozy photo ops with family, glad-hand a few constituents and count up the booty of lobbying perks with an eye to tax returns.
As something of an addendum, it’s also the season when two out of the three Abrahamic religions — Christian and Jewish — celebrate essential traditions. The third, Islam, did NOT arbitrarily decide to celebrate the Prophet’s birth on Christmas Eve just to goad the infidels, by the way. It won’t matter that Snopes explains this “other culture” incident rationally. It’s another of those silly stories trumped up (pun, no pun) by haters to sell the War on Christmas meme, perpetrated not just by the secular gawdless liberals, but — now that just about every outing has become a security risk — by the demonic jihadists as well.
Those with some skills at nuanced thought might note that the Prophet’s birthday celebration takes place on the 12th or 17th day of the Islamic month of Rabi’ al-awwal each year, the timing of which has nothing to do with the Gregorian calendar. I am reminded, once again, that those who go looking for trouble always find it, especially when they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.
But despite all the nonsense spewed by those who clutch the legend of the Christ child in an inflexible fist while ignoring the spiritual teaching that came after (much as they raise Cain to protect an unborn zygote while refusing to fund the feeding or education of those born), I’m taking the season lightly this year. Whatever is fun or amusing has my attention.
Laughter is the language of the angels, and I’m confident that we need to speak more of it. Like most everything else, taking things lightly is a choice, a muscle that needs exercise. We can make that happen if we will. In that vein, there’s a smile or two, perhaps a snort or hoot, to follow.
Here’s a YouTube called “Let’s All Get Elfed,” by the Holderness family, who have been having this kind of Christmas fun since 2013. If you appreciate their unabashed joy and want more, watch their Thanksgiving offering. All highly festive and toe-tapping, and if children’s giggles don’t lighten you up, you’re too far gone to continue reading.
Singer and songwriter Macy Gray released a holiday song this year, a catchy little anti-Trump offering titled “All I Want For Christmas.” I give her lyrics a hearty thumbs up,
Here’s a really cute clip that’s both a holiday advertisement for Britain’s Sainsburys retailers and an announcement of a children’s book featuring a resurrected and beloved kitty named Mog, the proceeds of which will go to the charity Save the Children. That’s the kind of collaboration between capitalism and private concerns we can all approve. Note that it’s a win/win, which is the model that will prove most effective in taming the beast of rampant capitalism.
Like Macy’s and Gimble’s putting aside their competition in “Miracle on 34th Street,” good will has a powerful signature. Here’s a clip — the lesson apparent and the cynicism biting — from a 1955 made-for-tv remake, and to indulge in a celebration of Maureen O’Hara who transitioned this year, along with the sweet face of an iconic Natalie Wood, a bit of the 1947 movie to warm your cockles.
This brings up my other aim this season, which is to give my attention to whatever’s moving and heartfelt.
Last year I posted a YouTube from Pentatonix, who rode the “Glee” zeitgeist into fame. They’ve been on a number of musical programs this year, and sang for the tree-lighting in Rockefeller Center. My favorite song of theirs — and surely favorite lyrics — is the same as last year, so here it is again: “Mary, Did You Know?”
And here’s another group that hits all the right Christmas chords, a group called Home Free, just making a name for themselves. This video of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is poignant and moving — prepare to smile or even laugh, swallow the lump in your throat or tear up. Either or both is a perfect response.
The Earth religions have a stake in this season, of course. Winter solstice is upon us, and it couldn’t come too soon, in my opinion. I’m already anxious for the return of light, the days gradually growing longer and the countdown for spring’s return begun. Global warming (yes, it’s a thing, PC or not) and the gathering energy of an unprecedented El Niño have already provided us challenges, worsened by the conservatives’ insistence that since it’s cold in some spots, climate change is a hoax. If anything proves the conservative lack of ability to contextualize nuance, there’s the whole enchilada. I’m determined to be more patient with the process than the politics, though. There’s a fledgling snow-pack in California, and that’s very good news in the drought-stricken state of my birth.
And solstice has its own magic, doesn’t it? It’s said that Jesus — presuming him a historical figure and not just a compilation of itinerant rabbinical activists during the Roman colonization of the Mideast — wasn’t actually born on December 25th. In fact, charting the astrology of the times, it appears that the Star of Bethlehem may well have been an alignment of Saturn and Jupiter in 7 BC. The first conjunction of those big Titans occurred in April, the next in October and the last in December, producing impressive light shows. Perhaps one of them blazed the light that the Magi charted into Bethlehem. Who knows? The details of those events are lost to antiquity, but the cookie crumbs of intuition are there to follow.
The return of natural light might have been conveniently associated with the awareness of Light, as revealed in the advent of Christedness. We had need of the realization of the sacred in every day life in counterpoint to all that was profane in the 3rd dimension — we still do. The birth of a Messiah can be interpreted as a political statement, as was supposed of Judas who favored rebellion against Rome, or something even more alchemical in nature. Something like Light, that dawns on us, that illuminates our own divinity, that lightens our burden of Illusion, that banishes the darkness of our unevolvement. Light that transcends the Illusion.
Yes, the church fathers, perhaps selecting a date that aligned with the temperament and traditions of the people, couldn’t have picked a better date than December 25th to bring forth an Avatar, just as the effects of Solstice are making themselves felt and the Pagan celebrations of Yule are completing. Timing is everything, they say. And the remembrance of our own innate Christed energy, a glimmer in the darkness of our sleeping consciousness, would certainly feel at home at a time of celebration so ancient that it’s built into the DNA of every living thing.
A question, my dears. With those long centuries behind us, are we ready now to shine?
There are days ahead to contemplate what Christmas will bring us this year. There will surely be shopping days and working days and festive days and more, but the spark that shone in the night, once upon a time, is still shining for us to notice. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote (quoted by our Amanda Painter), “The light of the soul throws sparks. …” The brightest, most joyful Christmas memory in our consciousness was shining with that Light when it imprinted itself; not yesterday’s business, but today’s.
The reason for the season, as they say, is not the worship of transcendence — wherever we think to find it outside of ourselves — but the realization of it within our capacity to love and forgive and offer at-one-ment to one another. We are star-shine, pretending at less. We are Light-filled, still afraid of our power, yet as Marianne Williamson has said, this is no time to play small. So shine through the darkness this season, and shine through the silly stuff and shine for those who are eager for the Light. It’s what we’re made of, it’s what we brought here with us and it’s what we came to do. Listen! Can you hear the laughter?
Blessed, fun-loving, heart-felt and Light-filled holiday to us all!