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What Are We Celebrating Here?

Rachel Alexander Dec. 5, 2016

{3:54 minutes to read} The holidays, now encroaching practically on back-to-school week, are here again. For many, ringing in the cheer has been replaced with wringing of the hands.

The holidays are difficult for most of us at one time or another, but when you are in the throes of a pending or recent divorce, they can be especially hard. With the holiday season almost upon us, I have been thinking about what we are celebrating and what it means to be connected to one another.

In a deconstructionist way, I have been considering what we are meant to be celebrating in the holiday season. Here’s what I came up with:

A reminder of where we are in our year, in time, and an invitation to contrast this year with last, to notice how we’ve grown, improved, aged. And to take stock of what, and who, we have lost. We connect to the space-time continuum. We locate ourselves in our own timeline and notice that it is not without end.

We connect to things past. If we have children of our own, we may experience a connection simultaneously to the future—the breadth can be awesome—who we came from, who we created, and the through-line of that.

We may celebrate our affiliation to a particular belief system or religion—traditions and customs we have practiced most of our lives, that connect us to our younger selves and those who raised us.

We make space for imagination, suspended disbelief, and all that is positive and childlike. The notion of a jolly fellow so loving he not only provides gifts for all the world’s children, he personally delivers them! By flying a sleigh! We are allowed to rejoice in receiving and delight in giving. We partake in making small wishes come true. There is a connection to a sweetness that is extraordinary and somehow uniquely possible during the holidays.

There is a sense of unity—the whole nation, much of the western world, celebrate at approximately the same time every year. We share a language, a happy this and merry that which we do not access the rest of the year.

For so many who, this year, are somewhat displaced, spending their first holiday apart from their children, their first holiday without exchanging gifts with their spouse, it’s important to identify everything to which you are continuously connected.

May we all pass this holiday season with a kindness and lightness toward not only one another, but ourselves.

May we forgo judgment and blame, and let ourselves be just as we are.

May we rest in the knowledge that we love and are loved; that we belong, even if we’re not experiencing it specifically at the moment.

Let each of us be reassured that we are part of this big, messy, imperfect human race, most of whom are also grappling with getting through the season with a modicum of grace and gratitude. Let us be in contact with that which is bigger than ourselves, yet resides within us.

May we be safe and be well.