As a kid my family did Christmas. Now I don’t mean that we attended any church service or engaged in religious aspects*. Nope, like many families, many Contemporary Pagans as well, Santa came in the night, gifts were shared, and we spent the day with family eating way too much. The manifestation of Christmas into my adult life is a bit different. We’ve moved all the traditions around the holiday that we like to Yule.
Some would argue that we are simply stealing back what was ours, but I don’t think of tradition that way. Tradition is organic. Tradition can’t be stolen, only spread. These things survive to me as a living way not because we reconstructed them from some book, which sometimes creates awesome lore, but because people never stopped doing these various practices. I recognize the legacy of all those that have engaged in festivities around this time of year, and I am grateful.
So here we are on Christmas morning and kids everywhere are destroying a forest worth of wrapping paper, but my kids had their time digging under the tree looking for just one more with their name on the tag three days ago. Our family doesn’t do Christmas. No semantics of what came first or any fight over political correctness. None of that is really important in the heart of the season and while amusing I think it is dividing, so I don’t play along. The reason is much simpler.
By the time Christmas arrives for many others, we are done. Done. From the beginning of the month each day is marked by hanging a special ornament upon our Yule tree and a candy cane is had. Each day is full of holiday music and the watching of all the classic movies; the Grinch, Charlie Brown, etc. Not to mention the commercial bombardment by corporations that began back around Samhain. Yule morning for us is like Christmas morning for others; full of presents, play, and laughter. The rest of the day is spent with family culminating into a small family ritual to honor the birth of our Lord and the labor of our Lady, after which we feast and are merry. So by the time Christmas rolls around we are content to let others celebrate, feast, and honor the birth of their Lord. Just as our extended family comes and spends parts of Yule with us, we will attend the feast they have prepared and invited us to. To us this is what Christmas is about.
As much of a Christian holiday as Christmas is, and it is; today isn’t about any of that for us. For us it is about supporting and participating in the religious lives of our community not as adherents but loving family who is happy to see family. The spirit of the day that was known in my childhood has moved to Yule—Yule is now Christmas, not Christmas. Today is about loving our family of other paths for who they are and giving them support; they did the same for us three days hence. Christmas for us is a day that shows we can all be of different paths and yet be upon the same mountain.
For those that celebrate in some form today; enjoy, be happy, and let the song of eternity sing in your spirit! You are blessed and have my blessings!
“Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.”
*My father and I would attend CoR’s Yule rite, but it occurred on the solstice.