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Sunday, December 13 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This year, the holidays are tougher than ever! Join us as we take a moment to stop and breathe together and take a break from the sometimes hard-to-handle holiday cheer.
how to attend
• To virtually attend, please Zoom in using room number 989 3107 9078.
• To phone into the service, call 669-900-6833, Meeting ID: 989 3107 9078.
For those joining, please mute as soon as you enter the room, so everyone can hear. Please note, the services will be recorded, but at this time, there are no plans to share the recording.
Story for All Ages
With all the activity and excitement that revolve around Christmas, it can be an emotionally trying time for many people. The weather is cold and rainy. Sunlight is scarce. And the excitement can turn into franticness very quickly. And this year is far more problematic. There’s social unrest, racial and political tension. Threats of terrorism, foreign and domestic, only add to the gloom. And with the specter of COVID-19 hanging over everything, one could have a really blue Christmas if they let themselves. Maybe someone close to you—so check in with people you care about.
As a minister, I talk with members every year about the holiday season and what it means to them. By and large, Unitarian Universalists enjoy Christmas, as evidenced by our hymnal and its close to 40 Christmas songs. But some folks—and probably all folks to some extent—are threatened by the holidays. Threatened by the commercialism, by stressful family-of-origin dramas, or by overbearing religion over the airwaves that they cannot relate to.
Part of what makes many people depressed is the disconnect between the story of weary travelers finding emergency shelter in a stable and the hyper-commercialism they see everywhere around them. And this is only worse today, what with layoffs continuing and the rent/mortgage moratorium about to expire. It feels wanton to overindulge when many are barely hanging on. But the season need not be one of excess—and should not be. How to avoid it?
- Explain to your children what Christmas and Hanukkah are really about. Prepare them for a one or a few gifts, but not a frenzy. And explain why.
- Have fun together: decorating, getting, and trimming the tree, calling cousins, etc.
- Make things: cooking projects, gifts, poems, scrap books.
Gifts are symbols of what we value. But there are lots of ways to express to others how much we value them. Spending time with them is probably the best way. Mary Pipher, child psychologist, bestselling author [Reviving Ophilia], and active member of the First Unitarian Church of Omaha, lists four things children remember—often very positively–about their lives growing up:
- Dinner together
- Outdoor activities
- Holiday celebrations, especially with their extended families.
COVID puts the damper on some of these activities, but they can be adapted. Sometimes the adaptation ends up being better than the decrepit old form it is replacing. My Mom created a stupid family game—Hilaria–involving the exchange of useless knickknacks. We have now been playing it for years—and this year are customizing it for ZOOM.
Even via Zoom, people are often threatened by the whole idea of getting together with their extended families. Many of us have issues with our parents, our in-laws, or our siblings. Of course! What can I say? Try to be “in” the group, but not “of” it, as far as you can be. Be an agent of generosity, and forgiveness. Say it aloud, “I love you!” “This is a relationship!”
Some of us are put off by those who use the holidays to show off their religiosity. They want to “put Christ back in Christmas.” In fact, Christ is the add-on overlaid on pagan roots. Also, there is an unseemly mixing of religion and commercialism (Bloomingdales in Stamford, CT: “Let us shop, let us shop, let us shop.”) Well, the good news is that this year neither of these annoyances apply quite so poignantly. If they are shopping, just about everyone is shopping online. You can be as pagan as you want to be online, and nobody will know the difference.
The holidays can make you blue, for sure. If you are like Carol and me, we miss our children, their children, and our extended families. So, for us, in many ways this Christmas is a blue Christmas. But we have plans to celebrate electronically where possible, are sending cards and modest gifts, and letting everyone know that, yes, we actually do wish we could be there with them. Remember what Christmas and Hanukkah are essentially about:
- hope in the midst of winter,
- birth and renewal in dark times,
- family warmth and care for each other.
And most of all, believing in something magical and giving your heart to it. And in sharing with those who are without. Celebrating thusly will turn your Christmas from blue into a comforting, warm, and glowing gold. Which is my Christmas wish for all of you! Merry Christmas! And Amen.