Wednesday, December 18, 2013

So This Is Christmas.......

I love Christmas. I love snow, cookies, tress and brightly colored lights. I love getting together with family, eating and just being together. Heck I even like shopping for my kids and seeing their faces light up.

As they get older, the magic continues to fade. But I try like hell to keep the focus off gifts. And I think I've succeeded just a little bit more than I expected.

My youngest son is on the Autism spectrum, and even at ten, Santa is still his thing. So is his "Baby Jesus" Collection. Nativities. He has ten at last count. All different kinds, and mediums. Some cheap, a couple expensive, and one antique that belonged to my mom.  That one is my personal favorite, it came from a African Missionary in the 1960's when my mom was in nursing school. I always loved that nativity, and now it sits with prominence in my home.  He would have more if we had the room. Every Christmas brings a new Baby Jesus set to the fold. But that simple African carving represents so much to me. Maybe the true meaning of the Nativity.

What is strange is we are not religious. Brought up Catholic, I made sure my boys were baptized and made their first communion. But we don't go to church every week. We don't focus on religious dogma. But I teach them spirituality and faith. To me those are more important and separate from religion. Organized religion tends to promote shame and punishment. While a good background of faith promotes healing and understanding.

My boys are respectful, honest and caring. Their empathy knows no bounds. (Yes empathy does exist on the Autism Spectrum.) They believe that there is a greater power out there that we answer to. And they respect whatever power you answer to. They believe you get back what you put into the universe, karma some might call it.

And yes they respect the baby Jesus.

If you read my book, Hunting the Moon, I explore this a little bit. Spiritualty vs. Religion.  Dogma vs. Faith. You can have faith and not religion. I learned that at a young age. It doesn't make you any less a good person. And I lean more toward the truth that being a good person means more than sitting in a church all day on Sunday.

This was brought home to me today when I read a poem written by a good friend of mine, Jason. He so eloquently paints that picture. The true meaning of Christmas. That its not the lights, and trees, and presents. But the way we treat each other. Jason so graciously let me share his poem with you:

I don't believe in Jesus, quite the way you do
Or celebrate the bible and believe it to be true
I don't subscribe or recognize that He was God's son
But I do believe in brotherhood, and peace for everyone.

I believe in miracles, maybe differently than you
I've come to know there's miracles in everything we do.
If we choose to act with love, and kindness in out hearts
We create our miracles when we our part

When I pray its to send my heart to every living soul,
Because I know together is the way goodwill unfolds.
I don't believe in worship, or reciting certain prayers
But I hold the greatest reverence for all of those that care.

I enjoy the lights of Christmas and respect those who believe
But every day is worthy of our kindness and our peace.
You may think I am blinded to the God you hold so true
But here's what I believe in . . . Every one of you!


So this Christmas maybe the greatest gift we can give each other is the gift of tolerance. The gift of understanding and love. Like my son so honestly believes in Santa, and the sweet "Baby Jesus", maybe we can just blindly believe in each other. In the right of all people to live honestly as themselves. To me that's what the baby in the manger represents. The gift of life. The gift to live life honestly and fully. While doing harm to none.

"So this is Christmas, what have you done?"

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