The holidays are upon us and whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza or the Winter Solstice, all of us at Intentional Self want to wish you the best of everything wonderful, fulfilling and loving for your celebration.
I stopped celebrating the commercialized Christmas many, many years ago. In its place I celebrate life, family, friends, colleagues and associates with healing and wellbeing. Whether you know it or not I will be sending you a powerful energy and Reiki healing for the holiday to help you through these times and provide a push for success into the New Year!
This is a time to think about what the holidays mean to you. In reality these are just one (or several) of the 365 days we live throughout the year, but this time of year should bring out the best in all of us. It’s really not about Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales or getting the most or the least expensive gifts to unwrap and then be thrilled or disappointed.
It all boils down to our expectations. We expect we will be gifted something wonderful. When we are not, we get disappointed. We expect someone will show us how much he or she loves us. When they do not, we become sad. We expect family and friends to come through for us. When they do not we experience disillusionment. You get the idea, don’t you?
I’m not saying not to buy gifts for those you think highly of, especially the children. I am saying not to forget the value and purpose of this season. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach our children, and remember for ourselves, the value of giving and sharing from the heart, to treat others as we wish to be treated, to provide a hug or your time to someone in need.
Below are a few values associated with each of the holidays celebrated at this time of year:
The Seven principles of the African celebration of Kwanza:
1) Unity: Umoja (oo–MO–jah) To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
2) Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
3) Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah) To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
4) Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah) To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
5) Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH) To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
6) Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah) To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
7) Faith: Imani (ee–MAH–nee) To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. (http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/kwanzaa-history)
In Judaism, Hanukkah purports the following values:
a. Never be afraid to stand up for what’s right. Judah Maccabee and his band faced daunting odds, but that didn’t stop them. With a prayer on their lips and faith in their heart, they entered the battle of their lives—and won. We can do the same.
b. Always increase in matters of goodness and Torah-observance. Sure, a single flame was good enough for yesterday, but today needs to be even better.
c. little light goes a long way. The Chanukah candles are lit when dusk is falling. Perched in the doorway, they serve as a beacon for the darkening streets. No matter how dark it is outside, a candle of G dly goodness can transform the darkness itself into light.
d. Take it to the streets. Chanukah is unique in that its primary mitzvah is observed in public. It’s not enough to be a Jew at heart, or even at home. Chanukah teaches us to shine outwards into our surroundings with the G dly glow of mitzvahs.
e. Don’t be ashamed to perform mitzvahs, even if you will feel different. Rather, be like a menorah, proudly proclaiming its radiant uniqueness for all to see. (http://www.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/article_cdo/aid/102911/jewish/What-Is-Hanukkah.htm)
A Christian Christmas and the values to teach our children and ourselves.
1. Strengthen their Faith. Jesus is the reason for [Christmas]. Share to them the heartwarming story of the infant Jesus– the real symbol of Christmas. Make it a tradition to observe the 9-day Christmas novena masses as a family. More than the festivities, prayer is one of the best ways to honor this season.
2. Inspire them to Hope. Inspire our children to dream, to wish, to hope for greater things in life. Christmas is the best time to share our hopes and dreams as a family. It is also the perfect opportunity to appreciate the goodness in every one, as well as the blessing that they are in our lives.
3. Celebrate Love. Christmas is truly a celebration of love. Encourage your children [and yourselves] to do random acts of kindness for their friends, family and others. Express love in different ways – be it thru quality time, words of love, acts of service. What matters most is that we fill our homes with love and let this love overflow in the hearts of our children.
4. Bond as a Family. Have fun and enjoy the traditional festivities of the season as a family… What’s important is for our children to cherish the warmth of family togetherness during this season. Make each moment count. Remember that Christmas is the best time to create perfect family moments
5. Value Simplicity.
The real value of a Christmas gift doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, simple but meaningful gifts are often more appreciated. Have our kids make creative arts and crafts as personalized gifts or ask them to assist us in making home-baked goodies for their friends, teachers and family. Show your children that the best gifts are really from the heart6.
6. Spread Christmas Joy thru Sharing. Nothing beats that pure joy we can experience thru giving and sharing. More importantly, it is an honor and privilege as parents to instill in our children the true meaning and essence of sharing and spreading the holiday cheer. Teach your children to give and to share – start with their friends and loved ones. Involve them in projects that reach out to the less fortunate. True happiness is not always about getting what they want for Christmas; rather, it’s about being able to give and making a difference in others.
7. Be Grateful.Count your blessings! Inspire your kids [and yourself] to be thankful for all the wonderful gifts they have received, regardless of the value. Teach them to be grateful most especially for the non-material gifts they are blessed with such as family, friends, time, love and many others. [As a family or even by yourself] you can come up with your own list of Christmas blessings which each are truly grateful for. It’s important for our kids [and us] to realize that there is so much more about Christmas beyond the merriment and the presents. We owe it to them to experience a meaningful, yet joyful season by properly instilling in them these priceless Christmas values.
8. Be Grateful. Count your blessings! Inspire your kids [and yourself] to be thankful for all the wonderful gifts they have received, regardless of the value. Teach them to be grateful most especially for the non-material gifts they are blessed with such as family, friends, time, love and many others. [As a family or even by yourself] you can come up with your own list of Christmas blessings which each are truly grateful for. It’s important for our kids [and us] to realize that there is so much more about Christmas beyond the merriment and the presents. We owe it to them to experience a meaningful, yet joyful season by properly instilling in them these priceless Christmas values.
Most of the customs, lore, symbols, and rituals associated with “Christmas” actually are linked to Winter Solstice celebrations of ancient Pagan cultures. While Christian mythology is interwoven with contemporary observances of this holiday time, its Pagan nature is still strong and apparent. Pagans today can readily re-Paganize Christmastime and the secular New Year by giving a Pagan spiritual focus to existing holiday customs and by creating new traditions that draw on ancient ways. Here are some ways to do this:
1) Celebrate Yule with a series of rituals, feasts, and other activities. In most ancient cultures, the celebration lasted more than a day. The ancient Roman Saturnalia festival sometimes went on for a week. Have Winter Solstice Eve and Day be the central focus for your household, and conceptualize other holiday festivities, including New Year’s office parties and Christmas visits with Christian relatives, as part of your Solstice celebration. By adopting this perspective, Pagan parents can help their children develop an understanding of the multicultural and interfaith aspects of this holiday time and view “Christmas” as just another form of Solstice.
2) Adorn the home with sacred herbs and colors. Decorate your home in Druidic holiday colors red, green, and white. Place holly, ivy, evergreen boughs, and pine cones around your home, especially in areas where socializing takes place. Include holiday herbs in it and then place it on your front door to symbolize the continuity of life and the wheel of the year. If you choose to have a living or a harvested evergreen tree as part of your holiday decorations, call it a Solstice tree and decorate it with Pagan symbols.
3) Convey love to family, friends, and associates. At the heart of Saturnalia was the custom of family and friends feasting together and exchanging presents. Continue this custom by visiting, entertaining, giving gifts, and sending greetings by mail and/or phone. Consider those who are and/or have been important in your life and share appreciation.
4) Reclaim Santa Claus as a Pagan Godform. Today’s Santa is a folk figure with multicultural roots. He embodies characteristics of Saturn (Roman agricultural god), Cronos (Greek god, also known as Father Time), the Holly King (Celtic god of the dying year), Father Ice/Grandfather Frost (Russian winter god), Thor (Norse sky god who rides the sky in a chariot drawn by goats), Odin/Wotan (Scandinavian/Teutonic All-Father who rides the sky on an eight-legged horse), Frey (Norse fertility god), and the Tomte (a Norse Land Spirit known for giving gifts to children at this time of year). Santa’s reindeer can be viewed as forms of Herne, the Celtic Horned God. Decorate your home with Santa images that reflect His Pagan heritage.
5) Honor the Goddess as Great Mother. Place Pagan Mother Goddess images around your home. You may also want to include one with a Sun child, such as Isis with Horus. Pagan Goddess forms traditionally linked with this time of year include Tonantzin (Native Mexican corn mother), Holda (Teutonic earth goddess of good fortune), Bona Dea (Roman women’s goddess of abundance and prophecy), Ops (Roman goddess of plenty), Au Set/Isis (Egyptian/multicultural All Goddess whose worship continued in Christian times under the name Mary), Lucina/St. Lucy (Roman/Swedish goddess/saint of light), and Befana (Italian Witch who gives gifts to children at this season).
6) Honor the new solar year with light. Do a Solstice Eve ritual in which you meditate in darkness and then welcome the birth of the sun by lighting candles and singing chants and Pagan carols. If you have a indoor fireplace or an outdoor fire circle, burn an oak log as a Yule log and save a bit to start next year’s fire. Decorate the inside and/or outside of your home with electric colored lights. Because of the popularity of five pointed stars as holiday symbols, this is a good time to display a pentagram of blue or white lights.
7) Contribute to the manifestation of more wellness on Planet Earth. Donate food and clothing to poor in your area. Volunteer time at a social service agency. Put up bird feeders and keep them filled throughout the winter to supplement the diets of wild birds. Donate funds and items to non-profit groups, such as Pagan/Wiccan churches and environmental organizations. Meditate for world peace. Work magic for a healthier planet. Make a pledge to do some form of good works in the new solar year.
So there you have it! Remember this can also be a season of heartbreak and sorrow for many. So many may have lost loved ones, are living alone, are homeless, hungry, weak or frail and can’t get around. It is a season for depression and sometimes suicidal ideation or actual attempts to end one’s life. We need to remember these people and do what we can to help comfort them just a little (or a lot if you’re able). Let them know they are valued and worthy of life and living. Remember not to look down on others less fortunate than you. Send them a blessings and some love. Energetically, it does help!
There are too many selfish and unconcerned people in the world who just don’t care about others, even within families. We need to remember that we are all connected, we are all one no matter your faith or beliefs. We are all manifestations of the source of All that Is. It is my hope that you will live the values of love, peace, compassion and care throughout this season and throughout the year to come!
Happy Holidays * Happy New Year * Be Blessed * Know you are Loved!