NOTE: If you’re a religious-ex, i.e. if you were born into a family that practiced an organized religion (be it Buddhism, Christiantiy, Judaism, or Islam), and you have come to see the limitations of said religion, the first few years of moving away from that mindset can be challenging. You might even find yourself feeling angry at anyone or anything that reminds you of what it is your working to separate yourself from.
Thankfully, that passes.
However, don’t let it preclude you from experiencing the joy of celebrations—drawn from traditional rituals—that ground the expression of your values.
Let’s take Christmas as an example. No one really knows the date of Jesus’s exact birth, if Jesus is in fact an historical figure. But pagans celebrated the Winter Solstice at the end of December, and it’s believed many of the rituals associated with those parties were adapted to Christianity. This is what humans do. We take what works from the past and carry it forward into the emerging order. So … to pick and choose whatever year-end rituals and traditions hold meaning for you is a perfectly legit way to go.
As each calendar year draws to a close, and the days become shorter, I find it to be a natural time to express gratitude, seek inspiration, contemplate life in greater depth, feast, and experience renewal.
Here are a few specific examples:
1. [GRATITUDE] Since 2007, on December 17th, Wreaths Across America has honored those veterans who gave their lives to preserve our freedoms. You can donate $15 to place a wreath on the grave of someone who gave their life for our country, and/or volunteer to attend the wreath placing ceremony at a cemetery near you where you can #SayThereNames. Since I didn’t serve in the military, nor has any of my immediate family, this is a great way to take action and say a deep and sincere thank you to those who do and have.
History of the Christmas Tree
- Performed by contemporary artists. Have you heard Pentantonix’s Hallelujah, Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You, Whitney Houston’s Do You Hear What I Hear, or one of my all time favorite versions of The Drummer Boy by Mary J. Blige?
- A local live performance. I have snuck into Christmas Eve masses, attended tree-lighting ceremonies, wherever I can find the best christmas music in the city. Nothing beats the chills live music can give.
5. [INSPIRATION] Schedule a binge watch of Peter Jackson’s movie adaption of J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic Good vs. Evil story, The Lord of the Rings. (Caveat: PLEASE do not RUIN the experience by watching any installments of The Hobbit! They will only make you weep!) If you're a true Tolkien fangirl or fanboy check out our J.R.R. Tolkien Epic Reads Group on Goodreads ...
7. [RENEWAL] Send New Year’s Cards. I don’t know if it’s because my Mother’s birthday was on January 1st or because I love new beginnings, probably both, but I just love New Year’s Day and love sending out New Year’s cards!
9. [FEAST] Enjoy a delicious decadent breakfast on December 31st! Once a year isn’t going to hurt you … Because on January 1, whether or not you “diet”, you’ll probably be more than ready for something totally “healthy” … bwahahahaha!