‘Tis the season!
It was always “Merry Christmas” in my house growing up in Maryland. I wasn’t exposed to a great deal of holiday diversity. We greeted our neighbors, signed our Christmas cards and answered the phone with a hearty Merry Christmas to you! As a little girl, my mom would dress me up for church in a full ensemble of hat, coat, shoes and dresses with big full skirts, always either green or red velvet. And then there was the muff! If you were born after 1970, you may not know what a muff is. It’s a warmer for your hands instead of gloves. It kinda looks like a fuzzy toilet paper roll that you stick your hands in either end to keep warm. Weird maybe, but it was the style back in my day. I had a lot of them! And by the way, they worked pretty well. Anyway back to our Christmas traditions.
For my parents it was important that we went to church for the Christmas service. That was one service I really enjoyed. The story of the birth of Jesus was interesting to me and I especially loved to sing Christmas Carols. However, Christmas caroling has the distinction for me of being one of the most enjoyable Christmas memories and the worst Christmas recollection that has bothered me for decades. But now with No Judgment, Just Love.™, I’m trying to see my parent’s side of what happened.
And the story goes like this…The church I went to with my friends and neighbors gathered the kids together on Christmas Eve and we walked the neighborhood singing Christmas carols. This particular Christmas Eve was also the night of a house party with my middle school classmates that I was really looking forward to attending. Everyone was going and at 13 years old, this would be my first “night time party with boys and girls”, signaling to me that I was growing up. Well, my mom told me as I walked out the door to join the carolers, “Call us when you get back to the Church and we’ll come pick you up.” Well, that seemed like reasonable instructions to me at the time I left the house. But after an hour when our caroling was over, about a half a block from my home, in my preteen mind it made no sense to walk all the way back to the church to call my parents, when I was so close to home. So I just walked the few steps to my house, came in and greeted mom and dad with a hearty “Hi I’m home!” Then much to my surprise and outrage, they grounded me for the WHOLE Christmas vacation!, saying we told you to call us! So, no party for me and let me tell you that call to my friends was the beginning of a “no good horrible very bad” Christmas vacation.
But No Judgment, Just Love.™ for my parents right?!
In my town in Maryland, everyone I knew celebrated Christmas, and except for that ONE I just mentioned, all the rest have been wonderful. I had no idea there were other religious and cultural observances. Holiday diversity was a wonderful eye opener for me. I first learned about Hanukkah after I moved to New York City and worked in Manhattan. Many of my friends and coworkers were Jewish and invited me often, on the first night of the 8 night celebration, to light the menorah at their home. I remember hearing about Kwanzaa from my Uncle Charlie who lived in Kinshasa- Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kwanza was new to America at that time and starts on December 26th, the day after Christmas. It felt very similar to Hanukkah to me with multiple days to honor and celebrate.
Now I am excited to learn about more cultural celebrations around the world. In Canada, the United Kingdom and in Commonwealth countries, they celebrate Boxing Day on December 26. This tradition is the day employers would give their staff Christmas presents, called “boxes,” to celebrate the season. In Mexico, Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe – Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe is on December 12 and is one of the most important Mexican festivals. On this day, thousands of Mexicans make the pilgrimage to the capital, Mexico City, in order to visit the monumental image of the Virgen Morena at the Basilica de Guadalupe.
Wishing you joy and peace for the season!