Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Holiday Retrospective

The boyfriend and I returned from visiting my mother and my sister's family in Charlottesville Sunday afternoon. Over all, the long weekend was a good one and it kicked off with us joining family dinners of friends/clients of the boyfriend on Wednesday evening and again on Christmas Eve. We also took out the boyfriend's 80+ year old parents and one of their friends out for a Christmas Eve lunch - something that was both enjoyable and entertaining. Christmas morning, we dropped gifts at other friends' homes on our way to Charlottesville which still had nearly two feet of snow on the ground when we arrived. We had Christmas dinner at my sister's home and stayed the rest of the weekend at my mother's home.
For the first time in my life that I recall, I did not go to church for Christmas. After dinner on Christmas Eve we simply decided to go home, spend some decompressing and to not go to church as previously planned. Candidly, I did not miss it. Even though I realize that not all Christians are anti-gay bigots, I also know all too well that in the USA the principal persecutors of LGBT citizens are self-described Christians. It makes it very difficult at times to even want to be reminded about religion or Christianity. Moreover, the present day date for Christmas was hijacked by the early Catholic Church from previous pagan celebrations. As the History Channel notes, December 25th had been the date that the birth of Mithras had been celebrated, so truth be told, no one knows the real date of Christ's birth. Here's a bit on the precursors to the celebration of Christmas:
In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down.
Also around the time of the winter solstice, Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome. In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. It was believed that Mithra, an infant god, was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra's birthday was the most sacred day of the year.
In the early years of Christianity,
Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. . . . It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia.
It wasn't until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia.
One positive development for me on Christmas Eve was that I received a call from my daughter who has not spoken to me since May. Whether or not it will lead to a full reconciliation, only time will tell. That same evening a friend whose son has had nothing to do with him for 18 years called him and the two are planning on getting together some time in the near future. The moral would seem to be that one never knows when children or family will come around and be accepting and/or leave past hurts in the past.

1 comment:

carole said...

It happens. Sometimes takes years, but if we never close the door, family may come around. What a gift to you, Michael!

Blessings to you and all your readers wishing for reconciliation.