What is the reason for the season? The answer will vary greatly depending on who you ask.
For the Christian, it is the celebration of the birth of The Christ.
For the Pagan, it is the essential step in life before the rebirth of nature.
For the parents of small children, it is the time that Santa makes his annual visit rewarding good behavior and delivering coal to those who were naughty.
For the science minded, it is the tilting of the earth’s axis as we make our annual rotation around the sun.
My father would have preferred to have the traditionally large Catholic family… lots of kids around the table. My dad was an only child and mom was the youngest of two (with a very large age difference, which sometimes made her feel like an only child). Try as they might, they were only able to have the two of us. Due to their many failed attempts at a larger family, they were very appreciative for the two of us.
My mom was raised Lutheran. As an adult she believed that if God is everywhere that she could commune anywhere, that church was man-made. She preferred to spend her time in nature to reground and center herself.
My dad was raised strict Roman Catholic; church every Sunday and every holiday, fish on Fridays, schmutz on your forehead for Ash Wednesday Catholic. The only child of two very reserved parents; it was a quiet, orderly house at all times.
Because my parents were married in the Catholic Church that meant that my Mother had to agree to raise her children Catholic. Honoring her commitment (and to keep her in-laws quiet) my sister and I were baptized in the church; I got as far as my first communion.
Shortly after, my dad’s job transferred him from NYC to Chicago, away from family and friends and for him, away from the church. The only time we went to church after that was when my grandparents came for a visit. He held his beliefs, but agreed more with my mom that God was found in the beauty of nature. We spent weekends at the park, every chance we could and eventually she talked him into camping – a deep love that they shared for the rest of their lives.
Since it was just the four of us, we remained very tight knit. Holidays especially focused on the appreciation of the fact that we had each other. While most parents cringe often during their child’s high school years, my dad was in heaven. I had friends that came over frequently and a boyfriend that just about lived there due to his own bad home life. Pop couldn’t be more thrilled! A noisy house filled with people.
As time progressed, Pop loved having his daughters having boyfriends and eventually husbands. More people in the house! Come the holidays and everyone was invited, literally. Folks from the office, friends, acquaintances, the mailman, even the people he commuted with on the bus to work. We always made sure that we had untagged “generic” gifts under the tree for the unexpected visitors… a tin of cookies, a giant Hershey’s kiss, a travel coffee mug. No one was going to come for Christmas and leave empty handed. It wasn’t about getting things, it was a way of saying thank you for being a part of our lives and our celebration.
My mom’s absolute favorite Christmas movie was How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Mine has always been Scrooged (followed by the Grinch). It’s only with the hindsight of age that I realize that my parents raised us to have a Dickensian Christmas (as in Charles Dickens ~ A Christmas Carol), to know what it took so much effort for Scrooge and the Grinch to learn.
So what is the reason for the season? Well for those of us who celebrate a more Dickensian Christmas, it is about appreciating family, communicating love and sharing with others. I want to take the opportunity to thank you for being part of my celebration. Enjoy and celebrate your loved ones this holiday season.