Thursday, December 18, 2008

Love: The God of All Things

Christmas is a strange time of year for me, since I was not raised in a home where we celebrated Christmas for the same reasons most others did. My grandmother, Berdis Emma Baldwin, was born on Christmas day, and so for us, the day was all about honoring the woman who was for us, a living, breathing, embodiment of the teachings of Jesus Christ. She was a special woman who possessed a deep capacity to love, bless and honor all those she came in contact with. Also, having a West African aunt, who was a recent convert and became a Jehovah's Witness, I was exposed very early on to the idea that Christmas very well may be, the biggest pagan holiday of the year. Jesus, according to their teachings was born in September and something else about the Christmas tree being a symbol for nature worshipers. Go figure? Well, my mother never really took sides, we had all kinds of books and studied a lot of different religions... Sometimes we had a Christmas tree and got gifts, sometimes we did not, but Christmas was always special, because for us it was Queen Berdis' day! The fact that our focus was not on getting gifts and spending a lot of money, which we did not have to spend in the first place, meant that Christmas took on a deeper meaning for us, than for most. Christmas was about family, celebration of life and it's many blessings, giving thanks, food and plenty of laughter and smiles. It meant I got to run around with a gang of cousins, dance, play and eat lots of delicious food. Sometimes the excitement was so high, that we could not sleep, but we knew that when did finally drift off to slumber land, that we were blanketed with the love of our family and drifted in a sea of joy.

My grandmother has been gone for several years now and I don't have the same reason to refocus my energy during the Christmas season towards her. So I am have become sort of an observer, and I watch people run around and buy gifts and get into the "Christmas spirit" and wonder what it is really about for them. Are they like me, and is Christmas about honoring the embodiment of The Christ in those we love? Or is it even about becoming more like Jesus, by becoming more compassionate, loving and kind? I mean nowadays, even people who were not raised "Christian" celebrate Christmas, buy and exchange gifts, decorate their homes and host Christmas dinner. Why are they celebrating? Do people even think about it, or do they just celebrate because everyone else is doing it, so they don't feel left out? Is it even legal to mention Jesus when you talk about Christmas? It is all quite confusing. I mean, what is Christmas really about for most people? Does a primary focus even exist for most people? Is there a deeper reason or meaning? Or are most people spending money that they don't have, in order to celebrate something that they don't really know or care about the meaning of?

I am so grateful for the memories that I carry of Christmas, of my grandmother and yes of the principles and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christmas for me has always been about love...Sharing love, giving thanks for love...Basking in the glow of familial love. My grandmother taught me that love was Christ's ruling principle and that all things can be made better with love. It is my hope that people who celebrate Christmas, whether they be Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Agnostic, remember that what we should exchange, share, wrap up, chase after and come together for, not only during Christmas, but all year round, is love...