Jesus is the reason for the Season
on the bumper of the sedan idling ahead of me, in line at a red light. No, he isn't! my mind insists. The season was a festival before he was born, the old ways swallowed whole by the newer religion and then vomited, barely changed, back into existence. (I've met Christians with keen eyes who see and denounce the pagan trappings of the holiday, but they are rare and I am pleased with their reasoning.)
Now, I think, we've sullied even that remade version. Visions of shoppers and malls thronging with people consuming far more than they can afford. Then there is the cynical cartoonist who invented a jolly figure to sell more everything. A clash in my emotions weighing the lie against beaming smiles. I defend the myth in one instant, deciding that anything that can bring smiles that sweet to my daughter's face can't be bad. The next moment I feel layers of guilt for letting her get caught in the commercial wave of wanting, and for letting the Winter Solstice be shadowed by Christmas. more, I'm regretting not being much more purposeful in the cosmology I teach, but
when science and magic weave and seesaw constantly, and my complex adult brain can't articulate the infinitely gray area of my pantheism. How could I teach my baby, then? I shake off the tangle of worries, and think that this huge celebration is a sumptuous, extravagant ritual time that can be enjoyed. There must be a primal need for an annual festival, and though winter is to me a time of dread, I think I can reframe this as a light to warm the darkness. I think of Hanukkah and the candles and the celebration of light-in-the-dark and miraculous burning and this too hints at the Yule fires.
From fire, I settle on thoughts of my hearth- the word fire draws me to images of home. My dark, brick and wood room centered on the weighty black stove. The delicious smell of smokey warmth creeping up to the rest of the house. Sense memories that illustrate the word cozy. Or cocoon. Warmth, family, quiet, contentment. Here is where I'll focus, in the fires. I decide, sitting in the chill air in the car, that when we reach home I'll light candles on every surface. I'll dust and fill the house with clean smells and I'll go to nesting rituals and let the flow of winter push me inward to my Dear Ones and my self.
I don't have to sort it out, don't have to be so damn purpose-driven and rigorous. I don't have to position myself for or against any definition. I'm a liminal creature. I move between ideas and perspectives. This mind/soul and body is a tapestry of concepts and colors. If I show my daughter three or five ways to see the world, that is authentic and she can find her way(s) and grow into them. Right now she invokes Jesus occasionally, and as often asks for Goddess chants lullabies. She is as excited about shopping for gifts to give as she is to dream of what she'll receive.
I am slowly learning to release bitterness, enough to relax into comforting family rituals. I'm learning that both is more powerful than neither. All my puzzles resolve there. Overlapping and synthesis and crossroads.