The Real Meaning of Celebrating Christmas and New Years

Published Date: December 25th, 2009
Category: Holiday Fun

By Strephon Kaplan-Williams Platinum Quality Author

Love makes a difference in handling Christmas excitement, expectations and depression.

One time when I was home from boarding school to New York City where my parents lived at age eight I got terribly excited when looking up at our tall Christmas tree that reached the ceiling that my father had to cut the top off, much to my child’s regret.

What a great tree that was, all green and its spruce aroma filled the air of our apartment. Outside was snow spiraling the air with white fluffs smacking us in our crispy cool faces. If my father did not watch me I would be eating the fresh snow off the curb or making snowballs for you know what.

I would get so excited and happy at the advent of Christmas because here love was. My mother told me that people were always nicer to each other at Christmas. Yes, I did not know why yet, but there was magic in the air!

However, when we got the big tree up the stairs, my father and I, and into the apartment, cut off top and all, I looked up at it and fell into a faint and hit my forehead above my left eye against the radiator as I fell.

The plain truth which I realized later is that the promise of Christmas is the promise of love, of caring, of new life itself.

Have you ever felt disappointed at the Christmas presents you got? I certainly have. It seems like those who love us never can really get us the present we really long for. Is that not because we long for love in our life?

Why is it that families tend to go home to the parents at Christmas, or one of the siblings’ houses?

It’s called the family archetype. We return to the nest where our existence started. In nature at the darkest time of the year, the Winter Solstice, the new light is born. After the longest night and shortest day the days start getting longer and we know that after winter spring and summer will come. Inside us it’s the birth of hope again, of another year of life, yet with new wonderful things possible.

It’s the death-rebirth cycle. Not only nature goes into hibernation, and living things are still but not dead. It’s also hibernation in the inner womb. It’s the season of the inner light, and so the outer light of many candles lit in the afternoon and evening brings joy to our hearts.

Where I lived for awhile in Sweden and Norway both, they have the custom of lighting big candles that cannot be blown out by the wind and placing them outside shops and restaurants on the sidewalks. This represents the winter light when all is darkness.

Darkness represents depression, the withdrawal of light, of life force, of energy and enthusiasm for new projects. In England it seems like the whole month of December nobody works that hard in their companies. What are they doing? The good restaurants are full all afternoon and evening because companies take all their employees to company Christmas feasts. They stay for hours, believe me. And they are mostly in no condition to work after such a feast.

Ancient societies always had winter light festivals, whether snow visited them or not because of the climate.

Christmas, the birth of the Savior, was put by the Church fathers at near the time of the traditional winter solstice. Whether they knew it or not, they were intuiting the need for humans to go through their own inner death-rebirth cycles.

And we go through ours as well, whether we know it or not that consciously.

Here are a few suggestions that will guide you through the winter holidays. Don’t worry about whether you are religious or not. Seek the spiritual significance of Christmas-Winter Solstice in your own inner being.

If you get caught up in a Christmas gift buying frenzy just remember that each of these material gifts symbolizes the One Great Gift really, which is the gift of life itself. Life comes through love.

If you don’t have that much love in your life at the moment, don’t get totally depressed by it, or if you are depressed, don’t hide from it with alcohol or anything else you want to take to relieve your depression.

Don’t let materialism take you over. In other words, don’t give yourself totally away to others in gifts or time spent with so many people. Choose. Pick your close friends and family. Pick what you want to do during the holidays as well as go with some of what you feel obligated to do.

Relax into the festivities. Take time to be with fellow workers and friends. Remember that the spirit of this time is bringing light out of darkness. Take some time to write an old friend with something serious about yourself and how life is going for both of you.

After being with a lot of people celebrating, also suggest to some of those closest to you that you all go somewhere in nature for a walk.

Remember that your life is one year older, as is everyone’s. You let go of the old year to make space for the new by acknowledging the old life, or the highlights of the year, and then you let them go.

In giving feast toasts you might ask each person to toast one highlight of your being or working together throughout the past year. Thus you are acknowledging the light, symbolically the high value times of the year.

If you just go along with things, or act happy when you don’t feel so happy, or get totally stressed out with shopping and planning dinners and parties, then you will lose a lot of energy and feel depressed by the time Christmas arrives or right after.

Don’t forget that New Years is soon to follow!

Seems like most of us want to be with other people during the transition into the new year. What is the tradition of kissing at twelve o’clock midnight but the symbolic hope of true love in the new year?

If you’re not with somebody special, don’t get depressed about it. If year after year you are not with someone, then make sure you go to a New Years special workshop or something.

Give up something old in transition into the new year. Yet also focus on something new for the new year.

Once I asked a group of twenty people who wanted me to lead their New Years celebration at the sea in Big Sur, California, on an estate, ‘what is the worst New Years you ever had?’ People told amazing stories. One theme dominated them all. It seems that when New Years approaches expectations are aroused. You are supposed to be supremely happy and optimistic. But what if you just don’t feel that way?

Understandable, say we psychologists. Expectations are never as good as reality.

The best attitude to approach the Christmas and New Years time is to open to all the feelings without expectation of what should happen.

Strangely, Christmas fights are common in families that get together every Christmas. You don’t have to fight but families do. Like my mother said, people are kinder to each other at Christmas. Was that a wish or a reality? She and her sister sometimes had horrible fights.

The problem is that most of us don’t get or give enough love and appreciation during the year, so then at the time of love and new birth we feel secretly depressed over not having enough love in our lives. We fight each other and become sick and depressed, rather than choose to love as best we can everywhere we can.

Watch out then because Christmas symbolizes the birth of new life out of love, and New Years symbolizes the sacrifice of the old life for the new. Sacrifice your negativity and hurt and choose again to love.

Love is choosing to love fully despite disappointments and past hurts. You must love yourself first before you can love others. You must love others first before they can love you.

The only true gift at Christmas is love.

Love is accepting the unacceptable because you want new life for yourself and others.

Love is the sacrifice of old hurts and traumas so that you can love and share again.

Love is caring about what is important in life. Love is caring about who is important in your life.

Love is feeding the rat behind the door as well as the beautiful kitten in front of the door.

Love is not perfect but the choice to love is fulness itself.

Love does not end hate but it does offer a chance for change.

Love is exchanging old life for new. Lovers may be old but their love can always be new.

Yet don’t expect perfection in love, or love’s ideal. A rose may be almost perfect but you don’t have to be.

You wont find your ideal gift or person probably out there. You have to allow times of quiet this holiday season to feel your inner person and to do things that are meaningful to you. Love yourself first and you will love others. Try to get love from others and you will be hurting yourself and them.

Don’t try to buy love with Christmas presents. Relax. Slow down. The right gift at the right moment will come to you if you let it. Go for simple. If you have to work too hard at it why do it?

Don’t just send Christmas Cards, if you still do. Send a few heartfelt sharing letters to a few people who have really counted for you in your life.

Don’t just have parties or go to parties, or to family gatherings. Make sure you put in special times, like lunches together, for special friends whom you don’t see that often because of the work-a-day world the rest of the year.

What people need is your love, not your gifts. You need to allow the time and inner receptivity to love and to allow love to come your way.

It’s also a time for reminiscence. With that special friend or family member, make time for the two of you to sit down together, or go for an hour’s walk in nature, just to tune in.

How has it gone with you this year? you ask. And you share some yourself about what you feel most good about, and also what has been difficult for you.

Remember, the real gift is love. We were born through an act of love and closeness and thus we become alive. We have the gift of life for as long as we have it. Don’t worry about death. The real problem is to fully live when you are alive.

Don’t rush around at Christmas and New Years any more than you have to. Slow down the pace. Don’t drink or eat heavily to avoid a secret pain, or because you think you have to be happy all the time during the holidays. You don’t.

If you are your real self you will feel the sadness of what didn’t happen for you this past year, and the joy from what positive things have become the shining lights on your Christmas tree of life and love.

The true star is love.

View Drs Kaplan-Williams’ extraordinary blog at: http://strephonsays.com/blog/2008/11/hello-potential-members

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