more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to
celebrate." - Oprah
the month of December is filled with holidays, we have plenty of
opportunities to express our holiday spirit and the love we feel for our
family and friends. Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, each offer us
opportunities to give gifts and share the good in our lives. Many
of us will participate in all three of these holidays as we celebrate
them with our family and friends of diverse backgrounds and religions.
It is truly a wonderful time of the year.
How we celebrate the holidays, for some of us,
is directly related to our chosen religion or spiritual philosophy.
But, this is not true for everyone, especially the celebration of
Christmas. People celebrate Christmas for all kinds of reasons
without any recognition of its religious or spiritual significance.
For them, it is a time of celebrating family and friends and the
exchanging of gifts. Since 1971, there are even football games on
television on Christmas Day, and this year there will be basketball
games too. No matter how Christmas is celebrated, almost everyone
celebrates it with the giving of gifts. And in this
"giving" we are in Reality expressing the
"God-in-the-midst of us" ... the givingness of Spirit.
Pastor Rick Warren of the famed Saddleback
Church and author of "The Purpose Driven Life," has
written a book about the purpose of Christmas. In his new book,
"The Purpose of Christmas" he tells us that "people miss
or simply skip over the true meaning of Christmas — the birth of Jesus
Christ." I can't imagine celebrating Christmas without
recognizing the mystical Jesus and his influence on the holiday ... but
He is not the only reason for the season. Celebrations during this
"winter solstice" time of the year predates Christmas,
Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. These are merely labels that have been used
to focus our celebrations on specific theologies. I am attracted
to the idea of "inclusiveness" during the holidays, rather
than separation by theology. After all, what has a tree decorated
with tinsel and ornaments have to do with religion? A tree is just
a tree until we "label" it.
Christmas, as well as the other holidays this
month, are about celebrating life, and joy, and happiness, and God's
abundance. It is a time of giving and receiving And the best
of Christmas to me, is the "bling" ... the decorations, the
tree, the gatherings of family and friends ... and most of all, the
gifts. The ones we give and the ones we receive. Most of us
give gifts just out of the pure love of giving. I love to give BIG
... that is, things that people will really like rather than just
something that is nice and appropriate. I like to receive BIG too
... things that I know weren't just a "sale item" at a
department store but something that the person giving the gift to me
believed I would enjoy.
I believe that as we celebrate the holidays by
decorating a tree, hanging the holly garlands, lighting the Hanukkah
candles, and preparing for the Kwanzaa celebration, we are expressing
the joy and love from within that will carry us into the New Year with
positive energy. Our giving and receiving of gifts is evidence of
the Good we have received and also opens our consciousness to accept
even more and more Good. It is an activity of consciousness that
recognizes our relationship to each other. Many of us send Holiday
cards to people we have not seen for years, yet, by sending a card, we
are recognizing that the relationship continues to exist and is
appreciated. We are in reality, sending an effect of the love and
friendship that we hold in mind for each other.
This year Hanukkah begins on December 22nd and
ends on December 29th. Christmas falls within this same period of time
on the 25th, and Kwanzaa begins on the 26th. To me,
these dates are evidence that this is a time for us to come together, to
let go of the things that separate us. And to realize at long last
that we are One; not Christian, Jew or whatever. One people, in
celebration of One Life ... that One Life which is G-d that dwells
within each of us. The One Life that is not concerned about our
religion or the symbols of our celebrations, but is always and forever
expressing through us as love, and joy, and peace, and happiness ... and
all things Good. The more we celebrate Life ... the more of G-d we
have to celebrate in our lives.
SO IT IS!
Dr. Henry Lee Bates
Visit Rev. Bates BLOG: Living
the Science of Mind