It's a season, not a day. Part 2 in a series.

November 17, 2009

Jen Louden started a conversation over at her Comfort Cafe about simplifying the holidays. When I began reflecting on how I’ve done that, it turned out to be more than a quick forum reply. Plus, I think it’s a great question. So, this week on the blog, it’s all about…

How I restored magic to the holiday season. [part 2 of 6]

Today’s Magic-Restoration Step builds on yesterday’s: Don’t pay attention to the count-down.

It’s a season, not a day.

A few years back, the local paper printed a guide to winter holidays: Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanza and, of course, Christmas – except they made a distinction between secular Christmas and Christian Christmas. And there was just something so spot-on about the way it was written, about the accuracy of its humor (this wasn’t exactly a scholarly essay of comparative religion) that made me realize my celebration of Christmas was largely secular. That which I disdained in the popular culture’s celebration of the holiday was, for the most part, what I was doing too. No wonder it felt like something was off.

Now, I am not a church-going Christian (growing up in a house-church kind of spoiled me for that the way attending an alternative high school kind of spoiled me for mainstream educational institutions), but that particular belief system was the one I was raised with – and I’m loyal to it. But loyalty and familiarity with a faith are two different things…

In my moment of choosing to be in greater integrity with my heritage and beliefs, I realized I didn’t know very much about Christian Christmas. So I read up on it. (This being the internet age, it was not hard to do.) And the best thing I learned about Christmas was context. It is a holiday in a sequence of holidays (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany – some of you will recognize this as the liturgical calendar, but it was new to me).  The connections between them have as much importance and meaning as the holidays themselves.

Magic-Restoration Step #2

One of the best things I’ve done to regain a sense of purpose and meaning during the holidays has been to de-emphasize the day and honor the season – the whole season from Advent to Epiphany – instead of trying to smash everything into 24 hours. And then equally honor all the other seasons, all the other holidays in the liturgical calendar and other traditions that have meaning for me throughout the year. (Waverly Fitzgerald’s work has played a crucial role in helping me figure this out.)

Treating this one day as the main event is a sure path to disappointment. You know this if you’ve woken on the 26th feeling empty or relieved it’s all over. No one day can fulfill a year’s worth of meaning. It’s not a realistic thing to ask of yourself, your religion, your family and friends – or your bank account.

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There’s nothing any more special about January 1 than December 25. Join me and Laura Burkey to learn the better alternative to new year’s resolutions – one that actually works. > fun and engaging tele-workshop December 3

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6 responses

  1. […] About THW « It’s a season, not a day. Part 2 in a series. […]

  2. So true! I think those raised in liturgical churches probably have this already (which I wasn’t and didn’t), but expanding the season really alters it for me!
    I am a *huge* proponent of keeping some holiday time *just* for me and Jay (Christmas day), while asking the extended family (in-laws, parents, aunts, etc) to celebrate with us during the “extended” season (week before and after). I think it sets up healthy boundaries for our own fledgling family AND stretches out the celebrating, without anyone missing out!
    And boy, do we not build up the *actual* Day. Sleeping in, going to movies, pancakes all day, that’s how we roll :)

  3. @Tara
    Good for you for finding the win-win solution with your family. Can be hard to ask for but so worth it.
    And pancakes all day? That’s a tradition I could get behind. :) C

  4. […] Magic-Restoration Step #1: Don’t pay attention to the count-down. Magic-Restoration Step #2: It’s a season, not a day. Magic-Restoration Step #3: Know your symbols and […]

  5. […] Magic-Restoration Step #1: Don’t pay attention to the count-down. Magic-Restoration Step #2: It’s a season, not a day. Magic-Restoration Step #3: Know your symbols and traditions. Magic-Restoration Step #4: Just make […]

  6. […] Magic-Restoration Step #1: Don’t pay attention to the count-down. Magic-Restoration Step #2: It’s a season, not a day. Magic-Restoration Step #3: Know your symbols and traditions. Magic-Restoration Step #4: Just make […]