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For many of us, the days from Thanksgiving through January 1st are about holidays, a term dictionaries tend to define as a break in work for festivities and celebration. I don’t know why that definition only—aren’t holidays supposed to be holy-days? I’m not saying that festivities and celebrations are inherently less than holy, I’m saying what we all really know, which is that in all the festivities and celebrations, we do well to remember, to re-cognize, the giving and taking that is the life blood of life and consciousness. So, as has been my annual take and give for the last few years, I venture forth in celebration of our celebrations.
I’m no expert about any of the following celebrations—which begin sometime around the end of November and last until near the end of December depending on the specific belief being addressed. And, yes, I’m certainly leaving a number of them out—my apologies. Consider this bit of musing an irreverent look at what is meant to be reverent, though many of these celebrations seem to find the celebrants spending a chunk of time focusing on that which is not exactly the reason for the season. Nonetheless, my look is still done with great respect for the essence of these Holy-days.
About Thanksgiving Day: I think it should also be known as Thankstaking Day. I mean, on Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks for all we have taken, only we couch it in the phraseology of “thanks for all we have been given.” That is kind of a dodge. Somehow we can’t do the humility/grateful thing if we give thanks for all we have taken? I wonder on that supposed first Thanksgiving Day how Native Americans would have felt if they knew what was about to be taken? I’m just suggesting that maybe we should think a bit more deeply about all we take—maybe that would help shift our attention about our impact in the world.
About Christmas: Largely a Christian celebration about the birth of Jesus, though apparently Jesus was born near spring as I understand it. Whatever. To Christians, the birth is a manifestation of the prophecy that humans were to be granted a savior. To be sure, we seemed to need something or someone. Having been so blessed, we still seem to be serving love, joy, beauty, and peace on earth in a little less then a stellar manner. It’s not Jesus’ fault—you can lead a horse to water and all that. Apparently a savior is only a guiding light—few true followers do not a loving world make. Nonetheless, we celebrate our hope that we’ll at least see the guiding light. Nowadays, if we can’t see the light, we’d better get out there and buy some lights. Apparently one can’t go on any kind of a journey if there is an economic collapse.
About Hanukkah (Chanukah): A Jewish Holy-day that is a celebration of light—as in illuminating dark—and in the miracle of having survived any attempt to extinguish light. An extension in this triumph is how we can return clarity to a contaminated mind and remember the importance of spirituality as opposed to material gains. Recalibration is a good thing—our minds can get a bit encumbered as we try and navigate daily existence. And what better way to undertake an important event then to celebrate? I think some buying goes on here as well—and eating. Apparently there is this economic stimulus boast necessary for a good celebration, regardless of the belief system. And hey, do you know how grouchy one can become if they don’t eat? Grouchy is not exactly a festive touch.
Hajj: A Muslim Holy-day that celebrates Mecca, the birthplace of Mohammad. Hajj is not only a celebration about the place and the founding prophet, but is about actually going there. It’s one thing to celebrate with a few friends and family, another to be part of an ultra-large crowd. If handled correctly, a huge crowd of like-minded people focused on reverence for love, joy, beauty, and peace on earth can spread like wildfire. We could use some of that. However, wherever there is a crowd, there seems to be those who see easy pickings. Good thing not everybody has to be on the same page for a major shift to occur.
Bodhi Day: A Buddhist Holy-day celebrating enlightenment. Siddhartha Gautama sat under the Bodhi Tree some 2,400 years ago and let the ten-thousand things go on by. The mind can do amazing things when freed from the trappings of desire. Part of the lesson here is the danger of desiring to be without desire. But also inherent in the lesson is the difference in desire having us and us having desire. In the latter, it can be let go of, in the former, we’re minions of desire. Not so good that.
Pancha Ganapati: A Hindu celebration, though other faiths like the Jains or Buddhists also celebrate him, commemorating Ganesha (aka, Ganapati)—the elephant lord of Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles. Beginnings are a useful tool in setting up categories, apparently another thing Ganesha is known for. Oneness is a bit ethereal without substance, and categories can be a good organizational tool in not only crossing the portal between the infinite and the finite, but in dealing with the finite itself. It’s not a bad state of conscious affairs to know the difference between a door, wall, and a space whilst traipsing around the finite.
All right, that’s a really brief look at a small sample of late November through December celebrations of Holy-days. As near as I can tell, all of these beliefs seem to have at the heart of them a celebration of beauty, joy, love, and peace on earth. All of these finer cognitions/feelings/behaviors are having difficulty getting a foothold not because of beliefs such as those mentioned above, but because of the interpreters and the consumers of what is good and what is bad.
Maybe we could start to call the late November-December period, the End of Knucklehead days, since we like contrasts between good and bad. In these festivities, we ignore, rather than try to convince, the knuckleheads about peace, beauty, joy, and love. The ignoring is not an exclusionary tactic—no heads can roll. It is pretty much like attending to that kid who wants to keep interrupting by not acknowledging their interruptions until there is a proper space for them to interject. For those needing attention, they’re usually willing to wait—as long as they will not forever be ignored. The litmus test for ignoring knuckleheads during the End of Knucklehead Days festivities?: If you’re not talking, listening, or acting in peace, joy, beauty, or love, you wait. It’s simple, though we all will probably spend the time doing a lot of waiting. But hey, waiting is better than making a mess and having to fix it. Besides, humanity has been doing a lot of waiting to begin with, we might as well learn how to wait properly.
Go, stay, do both, and have some good festivities. Interact well, keep our focus on the spirit of these celebrations, forgive each other and ourselves, acknowledge each other, listen carefully, laugh, sing, eat and drink, give and take, and recognize that we all have differing attentions, attributes, beliefs, and visions. So what? There are only a few of us that are inaccessible, most of the rest of us need both access and to be accessed. Let the celebrations begin!