Whilst thinking about this question I initially though “Well, that is quite simple isn’t it, it’s family.That is what matters, that is what Christmas is all about.”
But is it? Xmas means different things to different people and I have become very aware during my journey of discovery, that we are all made up of many different parts, all working together. Not just internally but externally the people around me complete part of me, my environment completes another. I feel the most connected and complete standing barefoot in a field staring out across the country side or the sea. So perhaps there’s more than one meaning of Christmas to me that connects all aspects of my being, even that part of me that craves to be alone sometimes (READ: A lot of the time) Afterall, family itself is an interconnected mass of different parts of people and animals who are in our present or our past and feelings about those.
So here is what xmas means to me, under the umbrella (ella heyhey) of family.
-Tradition:I have put this first for a reason. I love tradition and xmas seems to be full of it. Some new and some old. Some so old I have no idea where or when they started. One of my favorites was started in my childhood.
Christmas morning aged 4 or 5
As it got closer to xmas eve the fairy from the top of our tree would disappear. Apparently she flew to the north pole to tell santa if my brother (go follow the crazy kid on twitter @mikeybensonesq ) and I had been good and how often we had been fighting. Then on Christmas eve a new fairy would take her place. My Dad has always been “Po-workers rights” and worker equality so the fact that our fairy worked flexible shift patterns or even a job share was never questioned.
It was not until I told him I started doing this for Big Beautiful that I found out the truth about our work shy xmas fairy. In the early 80’s, when I was a little ‘un, our faithful fairy, sat on her highest bough, was set on fire by the lights on our Christmas tree . As curious and inquisitive children we were instantly aware of her absence so when a new one appeared my parents had to think fast…and so a new Christmas tradition was born.
-Stories are another aspect of christmas that I love and really bring this time of year alive. Stories of Christmas past, stories from our grandparents, other people’s childhood christmas memories, The nutcracker, the story of St Nick, or Mr Winter, and my favorite The little match girl. Then of course there is the story that surrounds us all. The nativity story which happens to be Big Beautiful’s favorite. The story of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.
Don’t look so shocked, I may be a Pagan but that does not mean I am ignorant. While I don’t push my children in their love for this christmas story I would never ban it. My children can choose the right path for them when they are ready to do so. This takes us nicely to
-Religion, faith and beliefs, this is exactly what I mean about the interconnectedness of all things. Traditions, stories and Religion and beliefs all coming together to make this time of year have meaning to those who want it. On xmas eve as part of our Yule celebration we will take our Christmas walk with the Princesses where we will collect pine cones and fallen berries, fearns, holly and ivy to make the wreath on our door. This is our celebration of life. It may look dark and dead out there but our wonderful earth and it’s amazing knowledge of life and interconectedness still encourages life and growth even in the most extreem conditions. Christmas tree’s and ponsettta, holly and ivy all survive in this cold and dark time of year. This is hope that we can get through the dark days and soon it will be Spring when life will bloom around us.
-Yule: This is the reason we also celebrate Yule, usually on the 21st December as this is the Winter solstice or midwinter. We celebrate the coming of lighter days. From the 21st onwards (more or less) our time spent in the dark nights and dark mornings begins to reduce ever so slowly. This year we will be celebrating with good warm winter comfort food, mulled wine or other warming winter drinkies, a small fire in our garden and some Christmas songs.
The thought alone makes me all warm inside.
My Dad once said to me “You will make your own traditions” at that time I thought How odd. Traditions are old and passed down the generations. This is how we know about long lost pagan traditions and the value of the earth, what it provides at this time of year as with any other time during the year of the wheel. But even back then, they all started somewhere and for one reason or another. So why can’t they be new as well as old and handed down.
The one tradition that I hope will stick around and that has been one that is focused on since forever, is family. All of the above and anything else you want to add to the meaning of Christmas is nothing without someone to share it with.
Family, that is what it’s all about. Isn’t it?
Do share your Christmas stories, I love to hear them all x x