Written by Sara Stees
It’s that time again! Like you – I find myself knee deep in the holiday season! Our family is incredibly busy shopping and cooking, decorating and celebrating amongst family and friends. And, it’s not just the overly commercialized winter holidays that have taken over our home. Both of my kids have birthdays coming up. She will be six and he will be a year old – adding all kinds of fun to this already crazy time of year!
My daughter is in the process of learning about many of the winter holidays at school this year. In fact, she just celebrated Diwali at her Montessori school. This is a Hindu five-day celebration of lights marking the triumph of Good over Evil and celebrating and worshiping Lakshmi. (My apologies to any Hindu followers as I clearly am not the expert on Diwali – this is my limited understanding.) She came home bearing all kinds of wonderful art projects and information that was shared by a mom of one of her classmates.
Inspired by another holiday she learned about, this past weekend she decided we needed to celebrate Chanukah. She told me all about the “big candle” – even finding one in Target that she figured belonged in our shopping cart. “They get to celebrate for 8 days Momma – how fun!” Clearly not the BEST reason to start adding that to our list of seasonal celebrations – but it was worthy enough for a nearly six year old!
This past week they have started practicing songs at school for the holiday celebrations. Last year this included a version of “we wish you a Merry Christmas” that had additional verses: “we wish you a Happy Chanukah and we wish you a Happy Kwanzaa.”
Yesterday upon picking her up from school she was telling me all about how the “Native Americans” celebrate Chanukah this time of year! Hmmm….that one took some deciphering! Turns out she had a mom of a former student come and sing them a Native American song about the Earth. Somehow Native Americans and the Jewish religion got a little confused in her brain! Can’t blame her – there are a LOT of holidays to talk about! (Not to mention that we just celebrated THREE Thanksgivings in our house – including the FIRST I’ve ever cooked – a nearly Vegan Thanksgiving feast that my daughter declared was GREAT!!!!)
However you look at it – it’s all a great mix of what makes this time of the year MY favorite, and clearly a favorite to many. Despite the apparent insanity of it all, “the spirit of giving” and of gratitude is alive and well out there. It can be found – and celebrated – in all kinds of ways. Some celebrate with a Santa-sized sack of goodies for friends and family. Some donate goods and food to homes and food kitchens. Some light candles and spend time with family. Some sit around a table listing all that they are grateful for. Others spend the season dedicating themselves to the service of others, or raising their voices in song in praise to all that has blessed them.
Whatever the reason, whatever the design, whatever the manifestation of YOUR celebration – make one that leaves a LASTING impression… one that creates smiles on faces and softness in hearts. Fill this season with a spirit that really can help us bridge that gap to all the other days of the year. Make it a season to remember.