My family is a mixture of faithful, agnostics, and people who couldn’t care less. I tell people that I have a checkered religious past but it would be more accurate to say that I had a lot of different opinions growing up. I’m definitely culturally Christian though, that’s the mythology I grew up with and the one with which everyone around me was negotiating. I describe myself as a wistful agnostic. The universe is vast and lonely, I would like to believe that there is an all-knowing, all powerful deity because it would make it less empty, but I find it more likely that people have numinous experiences that they assign metaphors to and that most people are a mixture of grace and asshole and the most important thing is to try to fall on the side of grace. And I believe that if there is a deity out there, she would understand why I feel this way and not hold it against me.
I also like Christmas, because I like to curl up close to family and light fires and candles and decorate trees and bake sweets and exchange presents. I also like that it’s a way of socially shaming the asshole-inclined to give people a day of rest and abundance.
I did a lot of new things today, but my favorite was sharing one of my family’s traditions with my in-laws and participating in one of theirs. This is the Husbandit’s and my first Christmas as a married couple and it’s been…different. People always ask you as a newlywed, “So, how’s married life?” It’s difficult to respond because nothing changed and everything changed and that’s a really annoying answer. Relatively little changed in how we lived together, we’ve been together for five years and lived together for four, so we had groove. On the other hand, everything changed in how people viewed us. Suddenly we belonged to the “married club.” People would nod understandingly when I mentioned that I might move if the Husbandit got a job in another country when previously they would have asked if I was “sure it was worth it.” They started respecting my desire to have a life outside of work (I have a family) and to get ahead in work (after all, I might want to buy a house). It’s not that I think this is right, everyone should have a life outside of work and you should always consider if a move is a good choice, but it was a paradigm shift in how others viewed me. It has also shifted my relationship to the Husbandit’s family. I felt more comfortable and relaxed with them because I was no longer auditioning for the part of kin, now I am kin for better or for worse.
I missed my family though, so I asked if I could read The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. My mother always read a copy illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger and I always get teary and emotional when I read it. I think it is one of the most beautiful short stories ever written and one of the best Christmas stories. It was particularly poignant this year, as today is the first Christmas in four years that the Husbandit and I could afford to get each other Christmas presents.
I also got to eat a slice of Yule log cake and a slice of Moravian sugar cake, both of which are a tradition of my new kin. I will post a picture of both as soon as I’m back in network and can upload the photos from my phone.
As a final note, I’ll post a quote from a fellow blogger and friend from college. His blog is http://www.ninefingeredmenace.blogspot.com/ and he took a break from reviewing terrible movies to say:
“Pretty much since the beginning of civilization, this time of year has been celebrated as a holiday where the Light comes back into the world just after we experience the darkest time of year. Whatever name you give to the holiday or the Light, remember what it is all about. Also remember that we are all reflections of that Light; and therefore it is our resposibility to do what we can to bring it to those experiencing darkness. Do not forget the unwanted, the unfortunate, all all who have need for light in their lives this holiday season.”
Merry Christmas to all. May the next year bring us closer to the light.