Growing up, Christmas was THE holiday for me. I didn't care for Thanksgiving all that much - I hated turkey and being shunned to the kid's table. Easter was joyful, but it was already Spring, so he needed an upper? Christmas was it. At the darkest time of year, Christmas was a celebration of lights, my favorite foods, gift giving and decorations. And oh, the decorations. All of those handed done, sparkle and glitter laden decorations were my first chance to bring my drag sensibility to the world. Perhaps most importantly, Christmas was my Poppy's favorite too. He died two years before I was born but I've felt his presence strongly since I was a child, and I felt I was honoring him and connecting to him more strongly at Christmas time.
It's been a good number of years, the better part of a decade now, since I have celebrated any Christian holiday. There are miracles in the Gospel that I think, as an allegory, are really nice. For example, Jesus prophesying his own death and saying that the temple would be destroyed but raised up again in three days. The point was that God was both in him and in everyone and while I don't take a Christian or monotheistic approach to spirituality, that's a sentiment I can get on board with - that each of us contains the utmost ability for healing and unconditional love. However, the Virgin Mary myth is twisted and elevating a physically impossible birth to the highest achievable level of morality and purity has been one of the greatest tools of women's opression and general sexual repression for the last two millenia and change. Gross.
For years I've thought that I'd celebrate my own version of Christian holidays, take what I loved about them most, including the secular traditions, and pass them on to my children when I had them. Yet I've come so far and I have to wonder, does everything have to be a tweaked version of what I grew up with? A tree but no Santa (I don't get the lying to children thing), soy nog, tofu lasagna, lights on the house, the creche on the table just because I loved settingit up when I was little? Going vegan I learned that all of the frozen burgers and dogs and various faux meat products were sort of bad copies of something I didn't like in the first place, so why do the same with Christmas?
Having attended no holiday parties this year, and having had no landscaping to light, or decorations to put up, I don't feel like I'm missing out. I had a beautiful Solstice celebration with the Radical Faeries and I imagine that I might expand that celebration next year. The next old one to go is the new year celebration. I realize now that the reason I've never particularly liked celebrating the new year is that our calendar pays no heed to any particular rhythm of the cosmos and is entirely random. I now celebrate my personal new year at my birthday, taking stock of where I've been and where I'm going. I've devised rituals. Some may stay, and some may go, making room for others to be added. I'm a radical faerie. Break that down and what you get is that I get right to the root of things, and I do it magickly and with love.
Realistically, I will probably continue to gather with my family of origin for the rest of my life on Christian holidays, even though almost nobody is a Christian, because that's when they all gather. If it feels appropriate, I'll invite them to celebrate the holidays and rituals that I observe too. It feels very liberating to realize that I can let go of Christmas as I knew it and still connect to Poppy and to joy and to charity and love without traditions that no longer serve me.
Wherever you are tonight, whether you're reflecting on your Solstice ritual or moving into a Christmas celebration, whether you celebrate all of it or none, I wish you joy, peace, healing and growth with your families or origin and families of choice.