Updated: Sep 11, 2019
When I was a child the holiday season was simple. It was everything I was told it would be by my surroundings. We celebrated a fairly standard Viennese Christmas. Advent calendars, candles lit on wreaths every Sunday, Christmas trees, presents on Christmas Eve, turkey on Christmas Day (honouring the Anglo roots)...we even strode over to the local church to pick up the “light of Bethlehem”, albeit not being a Christian family. Every few years our parents came up with ideas to do Christmas slightly differently, them coming from multicultural backgrounds and with slight alternative hippie tendencies. One Christmas where they actually followed through and took us to Israel to visit an uncle, skipping Christmas entirely and joining Hanukkah celebrations there instead. As children that was quite a bummer, having to skip the piles of presents under the tree. Another time we spent the holidays in Bangladesh, a Muslim country, where they decorated a palm tree in European pagan fashion to mimic Christmas. Thus our identities were shaped, by different cultures, people and practices.
Today I have my own children, family and I am the one to create the holiday season for us. When I became a parent, the conscious inner journey of figuring out what I’m about began. Before that I seemed to just go with whatever I was presented with, never fully being aware and true to myself, always trying to fit in somewhere. Pregnancy and the awakening of the motherly instincts cleared the cobwebs in my mind and opened up the pathways that supposedly lead to my true self.
Now I ask myself, what do I want this holiday season to be for myself and my family? I don’t believe in the Hanukkah stories of my partners traditions, nor do I believe that Jesus was born on that day, was the saviour this world (let’s face it, the world remained in a pretty crappy state), albeit probably having been a pretty cool dude. And while I love the festive lights, the warm mulled wine, the music being sung by choirs, played by orchestras and the general spirit of love and gift giving, the mad consumerism and capitalism involved just dampens this spirit for me to a large extent. Winter solstice and pagan beliefs probably suit me the most at this point, but calling myself a pagan doesn’t seem authentic either.
The one thing I know is that I can‘t, and do not want to, fit in with these existing cultures. I want my practices to “fit in” with my true spirit. And while the search of this true spirit is a lifelong journey, staying in touch with it seems to guide me in the right direction. So this year I light up the dark days with fairy lights and candles, I decorate with the beauty and scents of nature, I play music that warms our hearts and when I quieten the mind, devote my consciousness to peace and ridding myself from anything that holds my spirit captive.
Great things don’t happen when we “fit in”. They happen when we step out and create new things. Be bold! Be YOU! You is New, you is unique, you is awesome!