Celebrating Christmas

Fred Cavaiani

In two days Christmas will be here. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Final preparations and purchase of gifts become intense these next two days. We tell people "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas." Happy Holidays originated from the term Holy Day, which meant a day set aside for observing something sacred or holy. The Holy Day of Christmas originated in celebrating awareness that a distant God became one of us. A God became a human being to show us that God is not distant from us and that there is sacredness in everyone and everything in life. Christmas represents in a beautiful and symbolic manner an unconscious awareness that there is a Divine Presence of Love in every aspect of life. Some call this the Humility of God coming to us in a humble and concrete manner.

Over the years this "holy day" has changed its form in many different ways. Santa Claus arrived on the scene and reminded us that giving gifts to each other is very important. He also reminded us that living a good life of kindness to all is very important. Then as this almost universal celebration of Christmas became so popular it came to pass that some people were offended by the references to Christ and even the word Christmas itself. So out of love and kindness to everyone our American culture references this so often as a holiday time. Happy holidays often replace Merry Christmas. Yet "happy holidays" implicitly means happy "holy days." These "holy days," starting with Christmas and ending with January 1, are really "holy days" of love and kindness and good will toward everyone. One does not have to be a Christian to celebrate "holy days."

The common theme of love is what we celebrate at Christmas. This means that people are sacred and are to be treated with a sacred reverence. It matters not whether someone believes in Christ, Allah, Buddha, or has no belief in God at all. What does matter during these "holy days" is that I treat you with love and reverence. It also matters that I listen to my heart and listen to its inner stirrings. Listening to my heart will bring me into an honest awareness of the power of love. Listening to my heart will also bring me into a desire for a God, a philosophy, a theology, a power that will fulfill my greatest desires and dreams.

At Christmastime we are challenged to look at life deeper. From the song "Here Comes Santa Claus" to the song "O Holy Night" there is a loving and stirring challenge to look at life deeper. How much love do I put into my life? Am I really happy, peaceful and joyful within myself? Do I hang on to resentments, judgments and condemnations of other people? Am I one of those "prophets of gloom" who seem to be always worried about the "evils of the world" and how "bad everything is"? The "holy days" of Christmas challenge me to look deeper within my whole life. Looking at our six grand children who are not bothered by what is happening around the world I discover the meaning of how to live with love in the present moment. I watch them become totally attentive to the present moment and connect to each other in a joyful and happy manner. Their enthusiasm for life inspires me.

Then I think about the enthusiasm of these "holy days." Bright lights, joyful music, and glad greetings from other people, family and friends getting together: it is a time for open hearts and open minds. This last week of December challenges each of us to bring out the best within ourselves. It motivates us to be more loving. It inspires us to be more caring. These "holy days" remind us that the world needs to be based on love and compassion for one another. The generosity of giving gifts reminds us that all of us need to be gifts to one another. Watching the Salvation Army volunteers stand in the cold for hours humbly asking for donations for the poor is a reminder that some people are poor through no fault of their own and need the generosity of others.

This 2014 celebration of Christmas challenges all of us to be reflective for a few hours or even a few days. This is a challenge to look deeper at our purpose in life. What are the real values in our life? What are the inspirations within us that motivate us? Do we listen carefully to the inner stirrings within us?

Christmas and these "holy days" constantly remind us what is most important. The inner stirrings within each of us are always based on inner feelings each of us experiences to be more loving and kind and to take quiet time to listen to our deepest values. These inner feelings of wanting to be more loving and compassionate and to listen to God in a deeper manner keep being challenged every year at this time.

Christmas is a time to pay attention. All the music, celebrations, family gatherings and Church services are simply personal reminders to go deeper in our lives. Loving others and becoming reflectively quiet will always bring out joy within us and help us understand "Joy to the World." It will always bring us a sense of peace and help us to realize what "peace on earth to men and women of good will" really means. Christmas reminds us that it is up to us to us to make "appearances" so that people will feel worthwhile and loved. We are to make each day a "holy day" by our love and compassion. When we do this we understand the meaning of the words "Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright."

Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com and his website is fredthecounselor.com.

Published: Tue, Dec 23, 2014