Last year, my traditional holiday season newsletter contained the following passages. My words shared then also express much of my mood this year as well.
Late November 2014:
Dear Friends whom I so admire & appreciate,
May this holiday season find you enjoying the best of health, the juiciest of joys, and the warmest of company. May your winter days & evenings be filled with the delights of: fresh new snow, spicey-sweet-pungent Jeffrey pine, blue spruce, & fir, frankincense & myrrh, winter campfires & cozy hearthfires, mulled cider, cardamom coffee, cloudy tilk (hot milky tea—whether spicey Indian masala chai, smoky lapsang souchang, Russian caravan, or Tibetan brick tea churned w/ dzomo ghee & a pinch of soda-rock salt), chestnuts roasting by an open fire, hot Mexican chocolate-with-cinnamon, apple brown betty warm from the oven, and so many more seasonal sensory delights.
Here’s to lots and lots of love, softening & soothing of tired & calloused hearts, & to conscious inner light-energy illuminating the darkness of this time of year, & of this moment in our human history.
I love the Winter holiday season! It can certainly get way, way wacky weird & even deep-deep-creepy, it’s true, but basically I love all the schmaltzy, smarmy glitzy tinsely good cheer jingle bell frosty razzmatazz Santa Clausy jazz—real & phoney (up to a point)! But then, I choose to sit at some comfy remove from much of it, so I can afford, perhaps more than many, to simply dig on it all.
Over the years, I’ve thrown so much Christmastide-related stuff into the stocking of this threadbare, patched, darned, re-darned, be-darned ol’ newsletter, that I feel a little funny at this late point revisiting most any of those items. Even though perhaps half the current tribe of my readers are new/newish—having been added to my acquaintance & mailing list only since the death of my late beloved sweetheart close to two years ago. Since her transition, I’ve thrown myself out there into the world of making new friends & acquaintances—as she insisted that I should do—such that the number of persons to whom I send-forth these personal musings & reports has just about doubled during this most recent-ongoing major phase of my life. One day, perhaps, I should try to collect the best of everything about Christmas, Hanukkah, & related topics I’ve passed along here in this newsletter from the past many years…but not for now at least….
Suffice it to say, that I feel quite “free” of most painful poignancy that for so many surrounds the winter holidays, and thus am able to sink joyfully into what I find best about the season; and I do find there is something very special about it all. Maybe it is simply that we, as a community, have made it so—and that’s a very wonderful thing. Yet, many societies for millennia have sensitively responded to the winter solstice & other astro-celestial subtle energy patterns occurring at this time of year & have long built-up spiritual insights & other cultural riches based largely on human awareness & experience of those natural & more-than-human energies.
To me, it doesn’t much matter at all just what makes this winter holiday season what it is, except of course as a rather intriguing, rich academic study giving off hints of a deep spiritual/cultural/celestial-influence-pattern-cluster redolent of spicey goodness, extreme oddment and some not-too-little mystery.
But, believe me, I’m also well aware (if mostly only at second-hand) of some of the dark side of winter holiday weirdness—especially family holiday weirdness (never much in my family, but in so many others), & sorrow (plenty of that to go around for all of us), but I’m not going to go into any of that here. At this time of year, almost everyone feels invited & uplifted to indulge in good cheer, peace & goodwill to all humankind, and I wish only to support everyone in this & also to revel in a bit of it myself.
So happy holidays! And much love from me to everyone who receives and reads this. Blessings through and through from me to you, and you, and you…
…With apologies for annual holiday repetitions/redundancies.
I’m sorry, dear readers, for sending yet another version of this same/almost identical explanation year after year of my perhaps quite idiosyncratic personal take on some of these major fall & winter holidays so widely celebrated in the American (& even planetary) context. I’d like to hope that something in what I write inspires you to think about some of the things I mention, at least once at this time of year. But don’t worry about any of it; please just enjoy the holidays in your own custom & be of good cheer & goodwill toward all (all year round!). Nobody is likely to understand & celebrate the winter holidays in exactly the same way as anyone else, anyway. So enjoy whatever you may find useful or interesting, and please don’t mind the rest.
“With those who are sympathetic, let us have discussion on spiritual matters.
As for those whose point of view differs from ours, let us treat them politely and thus make them happy.
But disputes are alien to our School, for they are incompatible with its doctrine.”
—Hui Neng (638–713) 6th Patriarch of Chinese Cha’n (Zen) Buddhism
“Philosophers never argue; students of philosophy may argue, but philosophers never argue.”
—His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (c1917-2008)
“A true saint never argues; a true philosopher always argues.”
—traditional Tibetan saying
“We regard no one’s religion as contrary to ours;
True love is born where all faiths remain united at the Source
as one whole of unity-in-diversity and diversity-in-unity.”
—Yunus Emre (1240-1321) Turkish Sufi mystic poet