Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Solstice

We're still figuring out our traditions for this time of the year. The kids are completely confused. As am I. It's Solstice, let's party! Or not. I'm not sure.

This crossroads I've been sitting at this past year has started to slowly pass me by. I think we've just passed the turn juncture though. And I'm pretty sure there's no U-turns allowed. I don't think I could go back to who I was if I tried. I'm just not exactly certain what road we ended up on. I feel like we're blundering down the path, however slowly, with no real clear goal in mind.

I'm going to be picking up some books to help us define our beliefs and the traditions we want to incorporate into our festivities. We want to celebrate I know that much. After experiencing the miracle of five healthy happy babies joining us in this world, how could we not have anything to celebrate? I do know that the way it's been isn't how I want to continue. We don't have the same beliefs as others. Being a Unitarian Universalist can be a tricky thing. There is no real guide to tell you how, what and when to celebrate. There are no UU holidays. Hell, our religious preferences and beliefs vary widely over the seven people that share this little house!

Part of our UU principles is honoring the inherent dignity and respect of individuals, which means that if our kids want to worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster we encourage them to do so. Finding appropriate worship and celebration techniques will evolve as we all search for our inner truths. We grow as a family spirtually just as we did ushering each new born babe into our home.

 Piggy-backing on their religious holidays feels false, wrong and it's what we've been doing because we just didn't know any other way. It's scary to turn from what's accepted and comfortable. Each year, since giving birth to my very first child those almost eight long years ago, I've struggled with performing rituals that are incongruent to my personal beliefs. Though each year -nay each holiday- the feeling has grown and bubbled becoming an amorphous beast looming darkly overhead as whichever celebrated day approaches.

Our goals have changed. We had entertained the dream of being farmers for years before it morphed from a idyllic notion to having purchased a very real piece of land. The feelings and beliefs with what is important to us has so drastically changed that daily tasks such as shopping, cooking and even throwing the trash away are done with more conciousness than we'd had before. It's hard to look at TV as just a harmless tool to keep the kids occupied. A very real threat looms in our livingroom. Food we'd have just tossed away before gets made into left overs, cat food or nourishment for the worms. Getting the mail has moved from a simple chore to at least a twenty minute endeavor as I take the time to baby my wee garden. How can my day change so much yet the holidays become unaffected? It can't. What I expose my children to (as well as myself) is an outward approval of whatever it is I grant access to me and mine. From the shows we watch, the end result of our food, the care of nature and the celebrations of the year, I have to pick and choose what is showcased in our lives. What I decide will effect generations of people that will someday share a bit of my DNA.

The small changes made in our daily lives open our minds to issues and problems in the world. I ask myself; Where does that food come from? What is that show teaching my child? How are these toys or books benefiting our lives? Are these holidays reflecting our heart's beliefs? The fact is that none of us are Christian. Celebrating Christian holidays looks nice, as does eight days of presents, but it's not ours to celebrate.

This year we just winged it. Presents got wrapped and laid on the couch or in their stockings. The tree stayed boxed in the shed. Santa didn't get cookies or milk -much to my dismay. Holiday cards still haven't got sent but that's more my personal procrastination problem. The gifts were sparce and most purposeful; sippy cups, school supplies, a chess set and the like with a few fun things for each. The small magic set with a bio of Houdini, an MP3 player loaded with read along books, art supplies that came in a container to store them. I'll be making a dinner with all the trimmings to enjoy later after Rob gets back from work. Next year I hope we will have some set festivities that showcase our individual inner truths as well as our overall belief as a family. But I feel good with the progress we made this year. We're trying and I think that counts for a lot. For now folks, Happy (enter your personal belief holiday here) everyone.


courtney smith said...

I feel you. we are trying to figure out how to celebrate as well. We aren't to my ideal model yet, but slowly working our way to somethign i feel comfortable with.

Sarah said...

I don't think it's inauthentic to celebrate the "other" holidays. Of course you have to do what works for you family, but in my opinion, if you lose the *learning opportunity* from those holidays, you will be doing your children a disservice. Why not incorporate it into your homeschooling?

Just my thoughts ... I am glad you are pursuing your authentic self and taking your kids along for the ride :)

Crystal said...

We do respect and understand other's religious celebrations though our church, our home teachings and when we're invited to do so with others. My kids have been to many Seder events as well as Christian festivites. We have many books that explain what and how other religions and cultures celebrate and their varied beliefs. We just don't have anything that is ours as a whole family yet.

One of my kids believes in Jesus, another doesn't. Neither parent believes in God. Still others are unsure and we help them to find their footing, which is part of being a UU. We have a tapestry of beliefs in our home but consigning ourselves to only celebrate the holidays that are "accepted" or "understood" does a diservice to ourselves. We blindly follow what we had been taught as children but it doesn't mesh with what we believe as adults. There is just little to help us figure out what those celebrations should be.

Only celebrating Christmas, for instance, when most of us don't believe in Jesus, God or the Bible but going through the motions as if we did, is inauthentic for us. Our house if full of religious freedom and we believe that each person is on a path to their own true sense of religion. We're just trying to figure it out now that, as adults, we're secure in our inner selves.

scafeltd said...

I just stumbled across your blog while looking for Popeye birthday party ideas (Popeye Pockets!).

I, too, homeschool - I am new to it. I have yet to mesh with the homeschooling community, as much of it is very religious.

You've probably worked through all of this by now, since this post is rather old.

Neither I or my husband are religious. We celebrate Christmas as a "cultural" experience, much of it being pagan in origin anyway. So Jesus, God, and the Bible are not part of our celebration. We can explain to our children "what others believe/celebrate" to fill that gap. (Their grandmother is a "He's the reason for the season"-type person, complete with a sweatshirt that lights up and sings.)

It's interesting to me, that when my dad was growing up in post WWII in Aurora, Illinois, everyone had Christmas trees - even his Jewish schoolmates and neighbors.

Anyway, I was glad to find more than Popeye Pockets on this blog.

Thank you!