Well it is that time again. The holiday season is upon us.
This year, as with every other, the world has gone mad! People are buying up the supermarkets as if it is the end of the world!! Why? I really don't understand the need. Of course, we will have our organic turkey and veg on Christmas day followed by a steamed Christmas pudding courtesy of my grandmother's mothers superb recipe, which has of course been stirred by each one of us for luck! But we won't eat anymore than we would normally for a Sunday lunch. Every year I cringe more and more when I see the commercial exercise in wealth display that Christmas has become.
I am eternally grateful to be spared of too much glitter and plastic with the wonderful diversity of the school and their approach to the holiday season. With a school full of children from all walks of life, their approach is that of Winterlight, the celebration of the solstice on the 21st and beautiful winter songs, some carols and the celebration of light, this way Kwaanza, Diwali, Christmas, Hannukah are all there. T. has already participated in his choral concert and was so excited and proud to be able to be a part of this and particularly to share it with his grandparents who flew in that very morning and remained awake just to hear him and hear him sing.
Don't take me for a Scrooge or a Bah Humbug, I am not, but with questions being asked of me such as "If Jesus was a Jew, then why do we call ourselves Christian and celebrate Christmas rather than Hannukah?" the more I question why indeed? The more I want to lean more to celebrating this time for just the time it is in the calendar rather than for religious reasons. That said, it is part of my upbringing and heritage that I wish to share with my children, the same goes for the spirit of the big hairy fella in red. I have some acquaintances who feel it quite unecessary to inflict upon children this guy in a red suit who buys presents for "good" boys and girls. For them there has been pain when they found out that this is in fact just a story, a myth, a fable...........a lie? and really there is no such person. Hmmmm..........I respectfully disagree, I remember feeling that Christmas was a magical time and even when I did find out (I don't remember how) that it was in fact dad sneaking around trying not to stub his toe on the door and swear, it didn't spoil the magic for me. I think that is what I hope for my children, when they are ready they will discover, and, just as I explained to mum last night when she asked me how I would approach the topic of hanging (T. is reading Oliver Twist), I would answer all the questions he needed as honestly, without elaborating but without hiding the reality. I will tell him it is a tradition that goes along with Christmas and that it originates from history, Saint Nicholas or Baboushka or whichever fable you believe to be the origins. Each year we put 10 small presents in their stockings, a clementine and a small piece of chocolate just as my parents did for me and my sister and their parents before them and this is not subjected to their "being good" or "being on the list", that is the one part I really don't agree with. I don't feel scarred from knowing that it was all fantasy and I still feel this is a magical time of year to celebrate winterlight with my family and friends.
I have tried to make more of my Christmas gifts this year, I. is getting a doll (fortunately my current client had her baby this weekend, so i have time to finally finish the doll, although she may not be clothed in time!!) and my mum is helping me finish a jumper for W.
Another big part of our Winterlight celebrations is to not only think about our own festivities, but also to think about this time of year for others less fortunate. This year, my children chose to give a kit for a teacher from Oxfam for each of their classes at school. We also find half a dozen toys each year, that are in good condition, that the children give to the Toys for Tots appeal and then we make a hamper up for the soldiers in Iraq. The children of a friend of mine here frame about half a dozen of their art pieces that they made throughout the school year and take them to one of the old people's residences in the town to brighten the walls - I think that is a wonderful idea, so easy and yet thoughtful and the residents will probably be cheered by some brightness and "kiddypics"! One of the teachers at the school always volunteers for the soup kitchen on Christmas day and another friend back in the UK has a homeless person over for Christmas dinner and another friend and his partner are working in Uganda for VSO and not opting for the easy option of returning home for the holidays (I think they are contemplating catching and plucking their own turkey eugh!!!) I am proud to know there are such thoughtful and open people who rise above the commercialism and share their peace and love at this time.
Now I must fly, my younger son is singing in his class concert today and insisted on wearing a shirt and tie just like his older brother had done........there is a tear in my eye!
Have a wonderful, peaceful and restful holiday season !