2015. Wow. What a year. I could write for days about all that's happened this year and all that I've learned. But for today dear reader we'll just look at December 25th or as most of us call it... Friday. Hahaha. Ok, I'll say it, Christmas.
As part of my challenging everything I "know" this year one thing I challenged myself to do was to look at Christmas differently. In years past I've been known as a "Christmas guy" to just about everyone. In the past I'd start thinking about Christmas as soon as possible, planning as soon as Thanksgiving was over, and decorating as soon as it wouldn't be seen as absurd. This year however things had to be changed. I had to "break up with Christmas" as it was recently described in one of the podcasts I listen to. (The Nature of All Things podcast; if you enjoy this blog, there are certainly topics on there you'll find appealing.)
Part of "breaking up with Christmas" for me meant challenging traditional Christmas stuff. So this year not a tree was lit, not a stocking was hung, no Christmas movies, no Christmas Who-pudding, not even roast beast! (Dr. Seuss I am not). I only bought one gift and that was for some friends of mine who have just been awesome this year and I wanted to just give something to say thanks more than Merry Christmas. If you walked into my apartment today it would look just like any other day. Not a sign of Christmas. I didn't go see any lights, I didn't cook any special meals, I didn't sing a single carol. Now, this wasn't in any attempt to poo poo Christmas or be a Scrooge, it was just stripping away all the traditional 'stuff' that I usually apply to December 25th.
So... What happened? What did I do? Well I didn't spring out of bed with a rush to rip open packages that's for sure. I did wake up early and drive myself out to the beach for some quiet time. (pre-coffee even) I've done this before, but today was totally different. It was so foggy out at the beach that you couldn't see for more than 40-50 feet and there was nobody out there. So, when I sat down to watch the surf and just be by myself, it was like sitting in a bubble. It was like I was in my own little world. At first I was sure a pirate ship was going to show up out of the fog and take me off on some grand adventure, then I realized they'd probably still be asleep. Sigh. After I settled in, I had a good hour of time to put Christ back in Christmas. That's what I wanted to do despite how cheesy that phrase may sound to some of you. I wanted to get quiet and get present not get busy and get presents.
The sign of Christmas is a star a light in the darkness. See it not outside of yourself, but as shining in the Heaven within, and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come...
This Christmas, give the Holy Spirit everything that would hurt you. Let yourself be healed completely, that you may join with Him in healing. And let us celebrate our release together, by releasing everyone with us. Leave nothing behind for release is total...
For in the time of Christ, communication with him is restored, and He joins us in the celebration of His Son's Creation. God offers thanks to the holy host who would receive Him, and let Him enter, and abide where He would be. And by your welcome, does He welcome you into Himself.
(ACIM ch. 15)
I had read these words a few months ago and then again last night and this morning as well. It's what I went out to the beach this morning to meditate on. At Christmas, the time of Christ, communication with God is restored. That's not to say that this can't happen anytime, but, for me, I chose to make that my focus today. There was a lot of saying, "Here I am. I am here, now, with you; welcome!" In my little fog bubble there was no hiding, there was no holding back, there was only release and communication.
By the time I got back home, I was starving so I did make myself a nice breakfast and then took a nap. When I woke up however I found I was still hungry for some of my new Christmas so I went for a nice long walk and did some more communicating. And, that is pretty much how this day passed. Lots of being present. Just communicating and listening. Ok, and that long nap. This communication was the only gift I received today, and will last longer than any other I've ever received. What's better than a bike under your tree? Not having a tree and opening up rather than opening boxes. Again, I am not crapping on Christmas here. There are good things in traditional Christmas and everything is what you make of it, but for me today, that wasn't what I was looking for.
Why? Why "challenge" Christmas? Because Christmas was a big thing for me in the past. So were a lot of other things that have been challenged and looked at. Challenging Christmas today for me was a day that represents a life; my life. There is a lot of stripping away of tradition and roles and a lot of replacing that with honesty and presence. There was a lot of questioning what is important. There's guilt, fear and obligation being replaced by forgiveness and love. There is a lot of work to be done still, but the excitement and joy of actually looking forward to that work gives me hope and faith that 2016 is going to be a good one.
The week ahead gives us all a chance to look back and look forward as we approach the New Year. I'll probably pass on that this year just like I passed on the traditional Christmas. I think I'll just try to stay present, not plan, and just let life come to me. Everything will be as it should be...
As a bow on top of this Christmas post, let me wish you all a smile that warms your heart. If it's like mine today, it may last long enough to make your cheeks hurt. But you'll enjoy it none the less.
With Love, Merry Christmas Dear Reader!