24 December 2012
Peace On Earth
A miracle occurred: both our cats were sitting on back of the same couch, within a few inches of each other, without hissing at, batting, or chasing the other. Peace on earth, goodwill to cats! It must be Christmas.
Oh, pardon me - am I not being politically correct here? Okay, let me rephrase that: It must be The Holidays. Wait - which ones? Easter? Or Victoria Day? Maybe Valentine's - love and romance in the air... Pfffft. That just doesn't cut it.
You see, I'm talking about Christmas here. Not wimpy, wishy-washy, generic culturally neutered "holidays". I celebrate Christmas, the Christian feast, as my family has done for I-don't-know-how-many generations. Not only that, I'm fully aware and appreciative of the fact that a great many of its traditions that I hold dear have their origins in the pagan culture of my long-ago Germanic ancestors. I'm quite sure that the Christmas tree, for example, started out as some kind of fertility symbol: in the darkest time of the year people brought the evergreen tree into the house, hung apples and other gifts onto its boughs, and lit candles to show that the light would, indeed, return, and trees would once again bear leaf and fruit. (That's my own theory; I don't have any actual historic information to back this up - but it just makes sense to me, you know?) Christmas is deeply rooted in traditions of my faith, of my culture, of what generations upon generations of those who have gone before celebrated in similar or else very different ways.
I celebrate Christmas, not Hanukkah (as I'm not Jewish, more's the pity), or Kwanzaa (being of a rather pale complexion), or any other of the wonderful feasts that are being celebrated at this time of year by others. There is no disrespect to other cultures, other traditions, other faiths, in wishing someone a Merry Christmas. If that's what you celebrate, of course. If your biggest holiday is Ramadan, then I wish you a very happy one of those, indeed, and I hope you enjoy your traditions as much as I revel in mine. And I would love to hear what it means to you, and what the traditions that go with it are meant to symbolize.
You see, I don't know anything about Ramadan, or about Kwanzaa, and only a little bit about Hanukkah. But I do know a lot about Christmas, and I love everything it stands for. It's no accident that we celebrate this holiday right around the time of Winter Solstice. The message of the birth of the Christ Child fits extremely well into that setting: at the darkest time of year, in the darkest hour of humanity, light came. Just one tiny speck of light, just one tiny human infant - but it turned the tide. No longer is the darkness paramount, but the light once again returns. Light, and peace.
Peace on earth, goodwill to men - or, in other words, human beings actually practising peacefulness towards each other, rather than engaging in the malevolence that so often wants to assert itself in our dealings with others, particularly those of another complexion, faith or culture. That's what Christmas is about.
And today, even two black cats, with seven legs between them, were able to share the back of the couch in a modicum of peacefulness.
Life, the Universe, and Peace on Earth. Merry Christmas!