A friend asked me the other day how and why we celebrate Christmas. Because we are raising the boys Jewish she wanted to know how we handled the why of Christmas. I explained that Christmas in our house is all about Santa and family. She then asked if I, a recovering Catholic, still celebrated the birth of Jesus. What I said, and what holds true, is no. I definitely identify more with the Reformed Jews, and our temple's beliefs, than I ever identified with the Catholic church. I won't say I believe in Jesus but I don't not believe in him either. I'm actually kind of ambivalent about him. I believe he existed I'm just not sure I believe all the hype about him. And if you're a firm believer you can pick yourself up off the floor now. It's no reflection on you. It's just me. And yes, I've been told I'm going to hell for this so you can keep that comment to yourself.
I keep wanting to get into more detail about my religious beliefs here but that's not really what this post is about. It is about Christmas and why we celebrate it.
On my way to work this morning I was thinking about why I do celebrate and what really is it I'm celebrating. I realized I wasn't really sure. I could say tradition. I could say religion. I could say for the kids. But while tradition and the kids are the reasons why I couldn't really say the what. What is it we're celebrating? Consumerism? Is it all about the presents? Food? Is it about the decorating? Family?
I can honestly say it's not so much the decorating for me. I don't have many decorations. I kind of hate decorating. In fact, this weekend the littles got the decorations from the basement and then while I was out they decorated the house with their friends. Now it's not exactly how I would have done it but it's done. They had fun. And I don't have to do it. I know this would send most of the women I know over the edge. It's like doing crafts with small children, you almost can't help "helping" them or "fixing" it. I suppose that is something having all these kids has taught me. Keep my damn hands off what their doing. They might WANT it to look that way. It's all about the process for them. As it should be.
I get stressed like every adult this time of year. I want to find the perfect gifts. I don't want to break the bank. The lack of time. It drives us all crazy. So I asked myself, why do I do it? And I realized I wouldn't want to NOT do it. I do enjoy finding the perfect gift. I enjoy a well wrapped gift (something I want to spend more time on this year instead of less). I enjoy seeing someone's face when they opened something they never knew they wanted or the one thing they really, really wanted.
I realized I still believe in the magic of Christmas. And just because it sometimes seems like such a chore the memories of the kids' faces on Christmas morning, the video the kids made one year of their "cooking show" while we baked cookies, the family given a reason to come from where ever they are to just hang out... that is why I do it. To celebrate my family.
Now to just remember to enjoy it. To remember to take the time experience the little parts instead of rushing through them as if they are just one more thing I have to do.
May your Christmas or Hanukkah or seasonal celebration be filled with magic. May you remember why you are doing all this and enjoy it.