Reply Fri 13 Dec, 2002 10:49 pm
I'm sorry, Misti, that it is a sad time for you and for apparently a lot of others.

I have to say though, I have known poor people and I've been quite poor... and still enjoyed Christmas. The season doesn't have to be about presents, but it should be about generosity to your loved ones. It needn't be about keeping up with somebody's idea of society, though some people love to compete that way. Most of us are just looking for friendship shared.

I don't know about the lack of respect for the Holiday... I'm not even sure what that means... a lack of respect for Christian beliefs? This holiday is truly not just Christian. We all say it is commercialized, but there's a lot of good to that -- lots of special things in the store... a time to splurge... well-meaning goodwill.

The seasonal change means a lot of things to different people. I think we'd be hard-pressed to find any culture and religion that didn't celebrate at this time of year. I think it is important to a society to have culture-wide shared happy experiences. Christmas is our best shot at that.

The last photograph I have of my mother was taken in front of a Christmas tree... she was so ill, she couldn't have weighed more than 85 pounds (finally a size 2!). She died just a few weeks later and was buried in her beautiful Christmas dress. Twelve years later my dad died within two weeks of Christmas. It was very sad, but both times they were happy to be with their family for the holidays. Life goes on.
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Reply Fri 13 Dec, 2002 11:05 pm
Piffka, it's okay now, it's really not sad anymore because I'm just happy to see my family happy and excited and enthused.

You're absolutely right on all counts. I realize it's not about having money or things in order to be happy, it must come from the heart where all of our happiness stems from.

I think too as we grow older, it's possible we lose a lot more than the dimples in our knees and elbows. Through inattention and busy-ness we can actually forget how to have fun. Christmas is one of the occasion that many of us forget how to celebrate. I do enjoy seeing the warmth on so many faces, the increased sense of caring and giving, the gathering of families, the beauty of the music, the hustle and bustle.

I'm sorry about your parents, and that is one of the sad things about Christmas or holidays in general, we miss our family and loved ones who have passed away and wish for times past when they were with us. But, they are only a thought away and they are in a much better place, and sometimes much closer to us in death than they were in life.

Thank you for your wise and insightful response:)

Happy Holidays to you and yours!
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Reply Fri 13 Dec, 2002 11:36 pm
Thanks, Misti. I hope the holiday will continue well for you and your family.

Here's another bit to consider... In the Pacific Northwest the native Americans had a special event called a Potlatch. It was a time like our Christmas. People would show off their wealth and spread it around. It was a goodwill-making, fellowship-type event.

"When one's heart is glad, he gives away gifts. It was given to us by our creator, to be our way of doing things, to be our way of rejoicing, we who are Indian. The potlatch was given to us to be our way of expressing joy."

Agnes Alfred, Alert Bay, 1980

[The word potlatch is derived from the Chinook trade jargon meaning "to give". Giving is of great importance in Kwakwaka'wakw Society. To give means to show appreciation and to display ones wealth both spiritual and material. Central to the potlatch ceremony are the time-honored traditions of sharing, giving and the celebration.]

Potlatch was made illegal by both the Provincial Government of Canada and the Washington State territory. It has only been allowed back into native American life in the last thirty or so years.

Here's another part to the Potlatch...
"...the host's family go out into the crowd to invite women from bereaved families to sit and later dance in front of the gathered participants. This group is called the Kumala. This is an important ceremony in the potlatch, as it allows everyone to let go of the sadness from the recent deaths in their families. When the Kumala dance they symbolically shake off their sadness.

"One of the chiefs then stands up to announce that the mourning songs are about to begin and asks for silence from all the guests. At this point in the ceremony, mourning songs are performed.

"After the last song, the women of the bereaved families then stand and dance to another song which is not a mourning song."
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Reply Sat 14 Dec, 2002 02:08 pm
Piffka, thanks for the wonderful tale of the native American and their Potlatch. I have always enjoyed their folklore, and spirituality, and in general how they live and take care of their own.

We could all take lessons from our native American brothers, they are such good examples of christianity.
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Reply Sat 14 Dec, 2002 03:14 pm
I'm not sure they'd have called it Christianity, Misti, since they were Nature-Worshiping Pagans, but many of the tribes held honesty, faithfulness, generosity and goodness in particularly high esteem, something like the Celts. It is as C.S. Lewis said, there is an innate goodness in mankind.
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Reply Sat 14 Dec, 2002 03:18 pm
I have loved the concept of potlatch since I studied it in school. It really demonstrates the nature of reciprocity.
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