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The Light Fantastic

We see it every year, the holidays in full swing earlier and earlier.  Personally, I’m not much bothered by this.  I am in favor of having as many holidays as possible, and I love them without reservation or apology.  But I do understand why people get annoyed with what seems like over-eager merchandising, getting hit in the face too soon with the call to ravenous consumerism that the American “holiday season” tends to become. 

Today is Halloween, and already we’ve got Thanksgiving and Christmas lined up for sale at Walgreens.  It does seem pretty forced.  And if you’re not into the idea of two solid months of relentless merriment, it can feel dreadful.

My issue is that there are a lot of other holidays to acknowledge and honor between now and Thanksgiving, and between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  There are layers of nuance and complexity that “jingle all the way” just doesn’t capture.   Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

We’ve got two more days set aside to remember our departed loved ones —Día de los Muertos continues through November 2.  Then, if we wanted to, we could commemorate Guy Fawkes Day with our British brothers and sisters on November 5 — the gunpowder plot didn’t blow up Parliament in 1605, hooray!  Diwali commences on November 7— Hinduism’s “Festival of Light,” reveling in the triumph of good over evil.  Diwali is celebrated by well over a billion people worldwide — why miss out on that?   On November 11, we remember those who have served in our armed forces with Veterans’ Day.  Hanukkah comes early this year, starting December 3, offering eight more days of light and faith and hope.  Bodhi Day, celebrating Buddha’s enlightenment, is December 8.  Advent’s anticipation and promise builds throughout the whole month of December.  Winter Solstice marks the darkest, longest night of the year on December 21.  Kwanzaa is immediately after Christmas, a week to honor African culture and identity, with a potent message of community, responsibility, purpose, and freedom.  Then, finally, we begin it all again with a “Happy New Year!”

It’s a lot.  It’s a lot of ups and downs — the whole range of human emotion and experience.  And because the holidays are so loaded with cultural momentum and others’ expectations, the happy celebrations can bring out our deepest sadness.  Conversely, the serious and even mournful commemorations can be the most deeply satisfying.   So… it’s a mixed bag, and it can be intense.

My commitment this year is to let it be.  If what’s up is intensity, so be it.  If there’s fun to be had, let’s have it.  I don’t want to get swept up in concerns about what it should be like, and thus fail to appreciate myself and my loved ones in what it is.

I like to call this whole time of year the “Season of Light,” recognizing that sometimes Light is a bright sparkling disco ball, and sometimes it’s single flickering candle in the windy darkness.  Sometimes it’s clear that we’re the brilliant embodiments of Divine Radiance, and sometimes we’re picking up the shattered pieces.  It doesn’t have to be just one thing.  In truth, it can’t be.

And, I intend to dance through it all, tripping the light fantastic.   Join me, friends.  XO, Drew

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