Suzie Daggett: Have a kinder season
December 18, 2017
The holidays are a time of kindness, happiness and joy. You may practice holiday traditions of your youth or beliefs now relevant to you.
This year, with wild politics in either camp, a scattering of diverse emotions and ideas may seep into family gatherings. When you add a sprinkle of kindness during the holidays, it is possible to embrace everyone especially those who think differently than you, offering decency and love.
The spirit of the holiday season promotes appreciation, family, friends, service, hope and giving.
Kindness allows the blessings and beauty of different spiritual beliefs, ethnicities, upbringings, politics or cultural rituals to be appreciated.
Today, many families have blended beliefs and celebrations, including:
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Hanukkah: Dec. 12-20, a traditional Jewish holiday celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple and the festival of lights. A menorah has a candle lite for each of the eight days. It is a joyous time for families to come together, play games, sing songs, eat and give small gifts.
Winter Solstice: Dec. 21, this day has the shortest amount of daylight in the year representing the beginning of more light each day. Ceremonies might include Pagan mythology with an emphasis on interfaith understanding, appreciation of Mother Earth, family and friend get-togethers with food and gifts.
Christmas: Dec. 25, celebrated as the birth of Jesus of Nazareth by many as the light of the world and the son of God. It can be both religious and/or secular. Church services are attended, Christmas trees decorated with colorful lights, gifts exchanged, songs sung, food shared as family and friends gather.
Kwanzaa: Dec. 26 – Jan. 1, a new tradition for African-Americans reflecting on Seven Principles, using seven candles to convey their values. They remember their African roots and maintain unity in their families and community with ceremonies including music, drumming, storytelling, lighting of candles and a feast.
Note, the common characteristic for each tradition is light or candles to bring in more brightness. Another common denominator is family or friends gathering to remember the meaning of life.
Is it bowing your head and praying? Lighting candles with ceremonial words? Cooking special meaningful foods? Reading Santa's story for the little ones? Ancient drumming and circle ceremonies? Reliving the birth of Christ? Spending a day hiking with friends? Watching a boisterous football game? There are many options.
In our family, we have a dinner tradition of holding hands as one member says a prayer, traditional saying or poem expressing our love and honor for each other, Mother Nature, universal light, and the food to be consumed.
We share what we are grateful for and then say our special word for the New Year.
The New Year words are recorded, and the desire is to remember the value of the chosen word when times are crushing you.
Embrace your holiday traditions, giving from the heart rather than the pocket book and above all, be kind to each person you encounter.
When you practice compassionate heartfelt kindness, your inner light shines. Aesop (500 BCE Greek storyteller) said: "No act of kindness, no matter how small is wasted."
My good friend says this of her Hanukkah candle lighting, "let there be light and miracles."
And, the 1818 song, Silent Night, reminds us … "all is calm, all is bright."
May we remember why we celebrate these holidays as we offer the loving spirit of light, kindness and compassion. Happy sweet holidays to all of you!
Suzie Daggett is a writer and speaker. Her newest book is "The Pink Door: Moms' Journey to the Other Side" where she shares her thoughts about the passage from life to death. She can be reached at Suzie.firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.suziedaggett.com.
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