I had this question posed to me after I sent a tweet to fellow blogger Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson. I asked her if it was timely to wish her a Happy Hanukkah.
Needless to say she is Jewish, also a proud Mom, wife, and a great blogger. I have her blog address posted in my sidebar as a blog I follow and it is worth a look. In the interactions we’ve had, she is the type of person that I would be happy to welcome into my home.
She replied that it was timely and then she posed the question to me, “Do you celebrate Christmas?”
I had to think about this for a minute. I replied that it would be more appropriate to say that we “do” Christmas. We acknowledge the spirit of giving and recognize the history of the moment but we don’t celebrate it with all the Christian beliefs that surround it.
My connotation of truly “celebrating” Christmas is acknowledging the birth of Jesus Christ, recognizing him as your savior attending church on a regular basis, attending a religious service on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, and allowing the Bible to guide your daily living. Let’s not forget the sharing of gifts too.
That certainly isn’t me.
Although, I actually got an award for Sunday school attendance and it was my first Bible. The Bible I hold dearest is the one that I received from my parents on my 18th birthday. Not that I read it but it holds special significance as a bible was given to each of us as a symbol of our passage to adulthood. I know that there are passages in the bible that can provide solace or hope simply by the message they deliver. As I got older, I was having difficulty aligning what ministers were saying in their interpretation of the Bible with what I believed.
So let’s clear up some of my beliefs. I believe in a Higher Power. I prefer to think of this entity more along the lines that many of our North American Indians think of it. They believe in a “Creator”.
The Creator made the world in many different ways depending upon the beliefs of the particular tribe but there is consistency in the entity. The Creator’s way of bringing man and woman to the world is also described differently depending on location. Our native brethren have a great belief in the Spirit World and in a lot of cases they don’t find it in conflict with the beliefs of the Christian world. I believe in spirits as well. Spirits can take any form we want them to take and be viewed in any way we want to view them. Our Soul is the greatest spirit of all if you like.
I have friends that are filled with the “Holy Spirit”. I don’t believe in the almighty power of God so I may be speaking blasphemy to them. If I believed in the almighty power of God then why was I given free will?
So I believe in a Creator. I also believe that a man named Jesus Christ lived, that he was a carpenter, and he may have performed some miraculous things. We see modern miracles happen all the time. There have been miracle cures when the person should have died. People should have died in car accidents and come out of them unscathed. These are everyday miracles. Who am I not to believe in Jesus’ miracles or in the case of my Jewish friend and Hanukkah, the miracle that a small amount of oil that should have only burned for one day burned for eight. (By the way, you should really read the story behind Hanukkah. It is fascinating.)
I don’t believe that I have to believe in the biblical rendering of Jesus Christ as my ticket to heaven. You see, I’m not sure that heaven exists. I do on the other hand believe in the human spirit and that it does exist long after our earthly presence is gone.
I’m not going to debate what is written in the Bible. If you chose to believe that what is written is 100% the word of God, who am I to try and dissuade you. In turn, it isn’t your position to dissuade me of my beliefs.
However, I do draw the line where your beliefs do harm to others. Let’s be honest, we have zealots in every mainstream religion who have chosen their own interpretation of their holy book.
Every religious teaching that I’m aware of has some reference to respecting your fellow human beings, doing good toward others, and living a fruitful and productive life. If your belief system is so narrow that you can interpret your holy book to support your own narrow view of harming anyone who doesn’t share your beliefs, then please stay out of my life.
One of the books with a religious theme that I enjoyed reading more than any other similar book is a book called “The Shack” by Wm. Paul Young and published by Windblown Media. In this book, the author traces his dealing with a great loss. That is the loss of his young daughter who disappeared, coming to terms with it and finding God again. The difference in this book is that Young portrays God as a large, loving, black woman, who lives in a shack. When the book was published, it received great reviews but it was also held up as an example of the bastardization of religion and in some reviews considered blasphemous that God could be portrayed this way. But really, what’s wrong with portraying God/the Creator anyway you choose in your mind’s eye?
“The Shack” also gives a very good perspective of cleansing the soul. This book is a worthwhile read regardless of your religious affiliation.
I see that once again I have digressed somewhat from the topic. So Renee, I don’t celebrate Christmas with all of its religious trappings but I/we do celebrate the spirit of Christmas by helping others through the spirit of giving to places like the food bank and the Salvation Army kettles. We’ve bought full Christmas dinners for seniors and poor families. You see my wife and I and our respective families really aren’t wanting for material goods, food on the table, or a roof over our heads. We consider ourselves blessed at this time of year for those gifts.
So in closing, to my Jewish friend and her family, Happy Hanukkah and to my Christian friends I say an early Merry Christmas.
And one last thing, as Renee pointed out it may be appropriate to say Happy Holidays in certain circumstances and I have to agree with her. (I hate it when she makes valid points!)
But for me it will be Merry Christmas. 🙂