A Holiday Message

Robert Fulghum, a UU minister best-known for “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” speaks about that “funny feeling you get when you know that once again Christmas has come to you.” It comes in different ways. One year, I got it from Dr. Seuss’ Grinch. Other years, I’ve had it when George Bailey realizes what a Wonderful Life he has. I’ve had it surrounded by candles piercing the darkness while the strains of “Silent Night” drift around me. I’ve had that feeling driving home after 10 from a long day, greeted by a city light display that used to blink near the apartment where I used to live. I’ve had it as snow started to fall as I left midnight mass with a friend, snow blunting everything, softening it. I’ve had it sitting in my living room, watching colored lights shine on my Christmas tree and soaking in the quiet of darkness and December. I can’t be sure I’ll get that special feeling every year, but I put myself in situations where it could happen. Because though I could live without it, I do like when I get it.

But why? We UU’s can get confused about the season. What are we celebrating? What do we do with the theology, with the meaning of Christmas? Do we celebrate the birth of a divine Savior, as all the songs say, or of a human teacher Jesus? Do we mush Christmas together with Hanukkah and Solstice and Kwanzaa, celebrating hope and joy and the return of the light? Do we reject the religious meanings altogether and simply celebrate “the season,” sticking to “Deck the Hall” and ornamenting the tree with plain balls or commemorative Hallmark ornaments — from Star Trek or Harry Potter — anything as long as we avoid stars and angels and mangers?

We have choices. We can get in touch with the miracle of birth, or the persistence of the human spirit through the harshness of winter. We can celebrate love — love for one another, love for newborn babies, love we show through gifts and card, even love for Jesus. We can seek peace. Christmas has plenty to offer, even if Jesus is not a full-blown divine Savior. And so does Solstice.

As W. H. Auden wrote, “Let us allow Christmas to overtake us in all our haste and unpreparedness and renew the miracle of love once again in our lives.”

So may it be.

Happy Holidays,


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