As we emerge from November into December, may our focus on gratitude and thankfulness continue to expand. Regardless of your religious beliefs and practices, there are common themes across traditions for December. There has been a mingling together of practices that have influenced each other. For example, in Judaism some people have implemented gift giving on each night of Hanukkah, as a compliment to Christmas gift giving.
Expanding Thankfulness to Appreciation
During this holiday season, may we ponder how our relationship with God is enhanced when we not only express gratitude with words, but also consider the many gifts we have received from God or a Higher Power or whatever one experiences as greater than oneself. As we advance to appreciation, we become aware of qualities of the things we are thankful for such as blessings, understanding, respect, recognition and acknowledgement of these gifts.
Considering the Meaning of Symbols of the Holidays
There is great meaning in a number of symbols of the holidays that connect us with God, a Higher Power, something greater than each of us. A star is viewed as a sign of the light of hope that can overcome all. The sun is a star. Candles with their flames embody the constant presence of light and life. Christmas trees represent the undying presence of nature that is sturdy and stands throughout the year (as long as they are planted in the ground). Various forms of greens have been used for centuries to signify the resilience of nature that hold their living color year round. In addition, they have been a sign of safety and warding off any untoward people or events. Wreaths remind us of the endless nature of God’s love that is eternal.
Giving Across Traditions
When we consider the symbols, we are reminded of the deeper meaning of “objects” we may overfocus on. Let us engage in simple appreciation of these marvelous symbols. A key parallel of gift giving, is to remind us of the “Gift from God” that we were given with the birth of Christ. Giving to the less fortunate has also been a tradition connected with the holidays. Be it food, clothing, housing, or other resources. As you contemplate about gifts you will give, consider some act of charity in your celebration. Give yourself a gift, by giving to someone or something of charity or caring.
Happy Holidays and Many Blessings – Cindy