December is a time of waiting. Kids yearn for a break from school . . . and to unwrap gifts.
Some workers expect a bonus with their paycheque. Many look forward to some rest—a few extra days off.
Families eagerly anticipate gathering far-flung relatives around the dining room table. Christmas pageants, Bowl games, parades, and World Juniors beckon us.
Yes, Christmas is a season of waiting and expectation, but it’s also a season of celebration, hope, and giving.
Most Canadians are familiar with the traditional Christian celebration of Christmas. Advent is the three-week period when Christians reflect with hope, faith, joy, and peace leading up to Christmas Day. It’s a time of expectant waiting, a time to both remember Jesus’s birth and His return at the end of time.
But there are also many other celebrations by those who adhere to different faith traditions taking place at this time of year. My Hindu friends marked Diwali a few weeks ago. This is their festival of lights where the faithful celebrate the victory of good over evil with lighting, home decoration, shopping, fireworks, prayers, gifts, feasts, and sweets.
December also marks Hanukkah, an important celebration for Jewish people. Their festival of lights, which begins December 13, has important symbolism. The menorah candles have deep meaning for those who light them, and also remind all of us that a dark world needs light and hope. Indeed, most people on my street decorate trees and houses with many lights.
Another birth is also remembered in December. Many Muslims remember Mohammed’s birth at this time of year. Mawlid al-Nabi celebrations include singing religious hymns, decorating homes and mosques, enjoying fellowship, sharing food, and showing charity in the community.
A celebration of light is also important to many in Buddhist traditions. The eighth day of the twelfth month (sometimes marked on December 8) is Bodhi Day, the day that seeing the bright morning star brought enlightenment to Buddha. Followers today mark the season by sharing food and fellowship, adhering to religious observation, and showing charity and kindness to others.
Wow! Canadians of different faiths and traditions have similar elements to their celebrations this time of year. Food, fellowship, and fun for all! The holiday season is filled with a common spirit of hope, joy, optimism, and expectation.
Whatever your traditions and beliefs, the Christmas holidays serve as a good reminder to show special kindness to others. If your family or workplace doesn’t have much in the way of giving traditions, start something new that will endure to next year and beyond.
Get to know your neighbours, and enjoy fellowship with them. Show charity in your community.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a good job with good pay, reach out to help those who struggle just to provide the basics each week. Drop a toonie or two or three in the Salvation Army kettle.
Give to charities that have special meaning to you and your family and to those that are not so well-known and struggle to fundraise. The $50 that you won’t miss this week or $100 that you won’t remember next month can make a huge difference in someone’s life.
If you don’t have a lot of extra money to give, but have some time to spare, help out for a day or night in a local shelter or kitchen. Many charities advertise online and on TV this time of year seeking help.
Christmas is a season of giving—all the more for those who have received much.
Enjoy and celebrate the holiday season, with all its bustle, hope, and expectation.