Our Own Thing

What does “Christmas” mean to you? If you are a Christian, it is the religious celebration marking when Jesus came in the world. For the devout, it is a time filled with anticipation, ritual, and preparing for the light of the world to arrive.

Once again, the holiday season has descended. Yes, I said holiday season. There are quite a few to choose from and being inclusive is my jam. Peace. Love. Joy. Also, my jam.

Contrary to some opinion, these three things are not exclusively reserved for one specific faith. Many of the world’s religions focus on and teach the same lessons. In short, this time of the year means different things to different folks and it has for centuries.

However you define the Christmas/Holiday season is up to you. We do our own thing. More on that a little later. It is important to take a moment and think about the desire we all have for peace, joy, and love especially during the last two months of the calendar year.

The holidays are not only a time to celebrate but a time to extend gratitude, kindness, and love toward our fellow humans. There are infinite possibilities when it comes to how to go about the business of spreading holiday cheer.

This is one of the few times during the year when my heart swells with joy when scrolling through social media. The flood of stories showing joy, sacrifice, generosity, and simple acts of kindness help keep my faith in humanity strong.

They offer living breathing examples of love manifesting itself when the human race chooses to offer their best to another in need. Reaching out to others is what the spirit of the season is all about. Families and friends gather together to spend time with one another and reconnect.

Time honored family traditions, passed along from generation to generation, are enjoyed in homes and in sacred spaces. They bring comfort, familiarity, and create a sense of togetherness. Keeping up with traditions can be challenging during times of great loss or when major changes are in the mix.

Since coming out, my wife and I have been in a perpetual state of figuring out how Christmas should look, feel, and be. The first three years our kids were not with us for the holiday. It was a strange and emotional time and avoiding the ghosts of Christmastime past seemed to offer some measure of peace.

Separately, we both had traditions in our families which changed because the family changed. Our attempt to create new traditions resulted in some successes and some failures. Fortunately we learned how to adapt and regroup rather skillfully since everything changed.

Our first holiday with the kids happened two years ago. Fashioning a new look was a group effort and rather spontaneous. Chinese food, late night gift exchange, no church, and sleeping in. Simple. The only compromise was in regard to photographs. Their vote was no. We vetoed them. I mean come on. Low key won out and we were all thrilled with the outcome.

Flash forward two years. The holiday season this year gifted us more chaos than calm and more challenges than ease. Santa brought us breast cancer, the loss of my step mom, and a double mastectomy. Our current situation required more attention than decorating and shopping did.

Celebrating Festivus was suggested as a joke. No takers. Feats of strength would have been difficult and the airing of grievances happens every day around here. Plus, we have no pole to gather around. Instead we opted to adapt my oldest son’s take on Christmas.

My son was born in July and is an atheist. So we opted to celebrate what he calls his semi-annual gift day. Alternatively called Dykemas. I know. It’s awesome isn’t it? Another tradition was born. The moms were asked to deposit cash in to the boys’ bank accounts instead of having to shop for gifts. Score. Bro gifts were limited to $20, cash or gift card, and no wrapping was required.

We skipped the frantic rush of the outside world and experienced our own brand of peace. Absent was running around, fighting crowds, or dealing with traffic. It was glorious and fantastic. A friend of mine texted the day before and asked simply if I was ready. I replied “for what?” She said “Christmas.”

Our celebration of Dykemas removed the usual stress which allowed us to enjoy one another, have a wicked indoor snow ball fight, nap occasionally, and exist in our comfy clothes. Activities like the cleaning of the rooms, voluntarily, the laundering every pile of clothes, and the consuming of mass quantities of snacks at mealtime organically evolved on their own.

Lately, it is rare for us all to be in one place for any extended period of time. The lack of plans was surprisingly welcomed. This year was different but I did venture in to the attic to get our small 4ft tree on Christmas Eve and snagged a few ornaments while I was up there. It seemed important and necessary for rainbow colored lights to be a part of Dkyemas.

In a way, the spirit of Christmas/Dykemas was the same as any other day for our crew of misfits. Staying connected as a family and doing our part to add positivity to our world is how we try to roll through life.

The lesson for us this year is simple. Slow down. Recharge. Be still. Simplicity is becoming a relic in our day and age. Light bulb moment. Not everything needs to be complicated to have meaning.

Whatever the circumstance, traditions remind us of our roots and things we can count on to lift our spirits regardless of whatever may be happening in our lives, even if they sound silly to someone else. Tradition is like finding safe harbor in a storm. Some traditions are elaborate, others are simplistic. They are important regardless of which category fits and mean something to those who are involved.

As the New Year approaches, be mindful of ways to keep the traditions in your family alive while also being flexible enough to accommodate detours and the inevitable changes life tosses in to the mix. Go with the flow even when the current is strong and shifting.

Become a fan of appreciating and learning to respect those who do things differently than you may. All the time. Make resolutions to continue to embrace the present moment, be kind, create love, and lived an inspired life. These simple things will keep the holiday spirit upon everything you touch all year long.

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