How do we each year get caught up in a frenzy over holidays? Whose holiday, what kind of holiday, how to fill the time, whether and what to give to whom – and in the end, all we want to do, is to rest – but then, it’s back to work.
The idea should be simple (I know, it never is, and the idea of simplicity is always kind of utopian): The time which is marked in the Gregorian calendar as the end of the year roughly coincides with the darkest days in the year. If you find a way to bring some light into the darkness, this makes these days palatable.
Also, if you are ending your calendar at that time, it makes sense to take a breath and get the sense of being able to start over in the new year, after contemplating on your successes and failures, and spending time with those you care about. You may even finish some work that needs finishing, but do it in the comfort of holiday cheer around you.
You need no religion for that. It doesn’t necessarily hurt either.
Actually, in times like these, the story of taking in a small family in need of a home, can be instructive in how we position ourselves collectively, as a species, towards questions of home.
There are refugees needing welcoming homes right now. Are we not supposed to take care of others? Sadly, not everyone values family – even though that should be the basic connection that should be taken for granted. You should be able to feel at home, at home. You should also be able to think beyond your immediate circle and see as fellow human beings those who need help. That does not need to mean you need to do big things. But you could at least endorse the principle of caring humanity, and call out those that don’t support that, as who they are.
Our planet, our very home, needs us to take more care of it. Are we not supposed to be stewards of the land, rather than rapacious exploiters? We need the earth to live, and we do need materials, and other lives to live on. I am not a vegetarian, and I am aware of that. But do we not need to make sure that what we leave behind can sustain not just the present but also future generations, even if they are not your own?
In the end, the holidays could indeed be about home.
Again, you need no religion for that. But maybe, looking at a nativity scene, and just seeing a family in need of a good home, surely doesn’t hurt.