This year, 2014, marks my first “time called Christmas” among the Quakers.
I’m a Baby Quaker, a Proto-Quaker. I first started visiting a Quaker Meeting about nine months ago, so I have been expecting that New Things might be born around this time. I have attended regularly, have participated in a book study group, and am about to complete the Quakerism 101 course. All of these experiences have accumulated, or soaked in, in such a way that this Christmas season is qualitatively different than in previous years.
I had already given up most of the trappings of the secular and religious cultural Christmas. Although I attended or sang at Midnight Masses for many years, I have blissfully been in a “church free zone” for about eight years. Our family wryly celebrates Festivus on the 23rd to allow for travel and time spent with the families of significant others. We have a nice dinner together and exchange simple gifts. The dog and cats have been the primary beneficiaries of this ritual, although this year there is a toddler grandson who will be the focus. Christmas Day is filled with quiet time at home, a take-out dinner, and good movies on Netflix.
This year, my habitual holiday funk-fest never took root. I remained relatively unruffled as decorations started to appear before Hallowe’en. The old seasonal depression and remembrance of traumas past just never appeared. I hung lights on the front porch the day after Thanksgiving, because it was warm outside and because I love lights and I love The Light. I’m not sure if the rest of my non-Quaker family notices a difference in me, but I surely do. I still have clients to see and a few gifts to purchase, but I don’t feel the stress and pressure of previous years. This year, I am more calm, more patient, and more mindful, relishing times of rest, refreshment, and silence. I enjoy my family and my loved ones more. It’s not so much that I have embraced simplicity, as that Simplicity has embraced me.
All I want for Christmas is to be in communion with the Christ Spirit, the Inner Teacher, The Light. As I nurture that connection and work on “the inside job,” my role in the outer world becomes more clear and powerful. So this year, when “the time called Christmas” comes, I will be mindful, and ready. Like on any other day.