Day Twenty Five: Merry Christmas
Christmas was a success . . .
Santa made his planned appearance. Children were out of their minds with excitement. Much wrapping paper was torn and much fun was had by all. So much fun, in fact, my three handsome men were all tucked into bed by 9:00 p.m. And I am left here, alone, quietly contemplating a truly wonderful day. Yes, I L-O-V-E Christmas and I'm already looking forward to next year.
All of these holiday happenings had me thinking about my upbringing and, read religious upbringing, and my "issues" regarding religion and the confusion I feel about how to raise my own children. See, my family doesn't have a lot of traditions. What we did have we lost when we moved away from the rest of our family some 20 years ago. Then my parents were divorced about a decade after moving their family of five to the Northeast and my sister moved to Florida and what we were left with was a very splintered version of what we once had.
No more big dinners at my aunt's house; no more cousins to raise hell with; no more baking Christmas cookies with my aunt (although all I ever really did was eat the raw cookie dough); no more Christmas Eve church services.
Over the last five years, as I have now started a family of my own, I have tried to bring back some of the traditions I loved as a child not only for my sons, but for myself. I invite my mother and my sister (and her soon-to-be groom) to my house on Christmas morning to open gifts; I always make sure that my sister (and again her groom) have a stocking filled with all kinds of treats to take home with them; I listen to the Chipmunks when I put up my tree; I make sure that the brass angel my grandfather gave to me when I was very young is hung prominently at the top of the tree every year and I've given my children brass ornaments of their own to hang on the tree . . . But no Christmas Eve church services.
Although I am not tempted to go, when it's quiet and I've done all of my "Santa" duties, and everyone is tucked into bed and the only sound I hear is no sound at all - I do think about it. I remember the bigger than life stained glass window surrounded by grey cement bricks that I used to stare at during the Christmas sermon or during the Christmas hymns we sang at the end while we waited to hear the church bells ring at midnight. I used to get lost in that window. It portrayed Jesus in the arms of Mary surrounded by what I believe we the Disciples - brilliant and vivid greens and reds, blues and oranges . . . Even at night it looked as if it was being lit by the sun on the other side. That window always made me think about my life and my family and the world . . .
These days I have a problem with organized religion. I feel like it's a club. I feel like trying to make people fit a particular mold, making them feel like "bad" people who need to be saved from themselves and arrogantly assuming that your "way" is the right way - it just doesn't go with who I believe God to be. I mean, if he's supposed to love us all unconditionally, what's with all the fuss? What's with all the rules about loving him in return?
So that's my dilemma. I was raised in a Christian household and I believe that it's that upbringing that has contributed to my current belief system. I want my children to be independent thinkers; I want them to be loving and accepting of others even those that are different from them; I also want them to have something to believe in and I'm not sure I know how to give them that since I reel against anything having to do with institutionalized religion.
So that's why I'm doing some reading. I'm back on a Transcendentalism kick, so I think I'm going to explore the spiritual side of it for a change instead of just turning away from any mention of God. While I strongly believe that I can have a relationship with God without entering the doors of a church, I need to be strong enough in that conviction to allow myself to listen to and expose myself to others who also believe in God so that I can expand my own beliefs. I need to stop being so cynical and judgemental and absolute in what I believe Christianity to be - it's time to open my mind back up to learning. Maybe then I can start to realize how I might guide my own children in their spiritual journeys.
(Although I have a good start in this quote I found the other day: "I believe in God, only I spell it Nature." --- Frank Lloyd Wright --- A great starting point for some more study in transcendental thought.)
Well, this has gotten far too long and I'm getting tired myself. I hope the heaviness of the topic hasn't scared you away . . . I guess tonight I'm grateful for books that make me think and for nostalgia which has led me to think and read some more.
And of course, I really like my mantle clock, too . . .