The Minister’s Column, December 2019

What do you celebrate in December and why, and how? There are probably as many answers to this as there are UU’s. And I have not seen a direct line between the answer and people’s theology or ethnicity or upbringing. Religiously, there are a number of choices – Christmas, Kwanzaa, Yule, and Hanukkah are the best known in the United States, but there are also Buddhist and Zoroastrian holidays in December and a number of adjunct Christian holidays. And don’t forget Human Rights Day (December 10).
The Islamic calendar is lunar, so some years Ramadan comes right on top of Christmas.
Probably a plurality of us grew up with Christmas and observe it one way or another today. The mood ranges from uncritical sentimentality to Bah Humbug – sometimes in the same person at different times. And that person may be a staunch humanist with a soft heart for their grandmother’s dining table, or a Unitarian Christian, or an SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious) who really enjoys gift giving and gatherings. The Humbug may stem from theological skepticism or growing up in a dysfunctional family or horror at the tinselly over-commercialization or politicization of a powerful symbol of love and hope and generosity. Christmas is complicated!
And, of course, many UU’s share celebrations in families of mixed traditions. This year you may light candles of Hanukkah and Christmas the same day, not long after the Solstice, and followed by the candles of Kwanzaa. Whatever you celebrate, and however, may you have some moments of quiet joy, some happy times with friends or family, good food and fun, and above all, may you have a chance to share kindness and compassion with others.
Love, Kerry

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