Thursday, December 25, 2008

Why I Need Christmas

I was raised a Catholic and in my teenage years my mother had a religious epiphany shortly before my father passed away. We started going to church regularly. I was never much into that crucifix that was the centerpiece of the ceremony, though I did find the rituals comforting. I can’t tell you why – I guess I was craving some sense of routine, a little less randomness in the chaos. My expectations for the mass were set. I knew when to stand, sit, and kneel. I knew when to say hi to my neighbors and when to wish them peace and when to leave them alone. I knew what to say and when to say it aloud, in unison with everyone around me. I liked the structure and knowing what came next. Order and predictability were a welcome retreat.

I don’t go to Church anymore. I believe in being my own savior, and trying to save other people when possible by sharing my own survival stories, mistakes, time, learnings, and a sprinkling of chartable giving to select organizations that I believe do good work. I find salvation on my yoga mat, or in walking through the parks that surround my neighborhood, or at my computer, writing, in museums surrounded by centuries-old art, and during performances of theatre and dance and music of which there are many in New York. My inspiration and my faith are grounded in my family and my friends whom I am so close to that they are my family.

So even though I classify as Agnostic and not Christian, I still celebrate Christmas. I sill look forward to the season and take great joy in the decorations, the carols, the traditions, and the general feeling of hope and kindness that envelops our society at this time of year. I always emerge stronger and happier and calmer on December 26th than I was on December 24th. Maybe it’s the massive amounts of pie I consume on Christmas Day, maybe it’s seeing my sister, Weez, or the Christmas cards that arrive by post and by email, the surprise and excitement on the faces of my family as they open presents I so carefully wrapped for them.

More likely though, I think it’s a renewed sense of faith. In myself, in the world. I find that at Christmas time I can give up my fate to the universe much more readily than I can at any other time of year. There are some people who are able to keep Christmas in their hearts all year-round. I can’t. I am grateful everyday for what I have, for the people in my life, for my good health and fortune. Still, I need December 25th to be reminded of goodness, to be inspired, to rekindle my creativity. And it always comes just in time, just when I need it most. Happy Christmas.


Stephen_Baer said...


As this year's xmas season comes and goes I want you to know that I am one of the many who truly appreciate you sharing yourself, your stories, your love, your time and your care. May we be friends for ever and ever.

Christa said...

Thanks, Stevie-B. For reading my blog, for always being so supportive of me, for leaving your comment, for inspiring me with your own strong worth ethic and drive and creativity. We'll be friends for ever - pinky-swear!


runner52 said...

Nice article. Somewhere a long time ago I walked out of my church and thought I was a better person for it. Over the course of time I found that going back to church once in a while does bring a sense of peace and calm to a hectic world. I don't do the Sunday thing, but the occasional Tuesday morning or any other day for that matter, except Sunday, if I'm driving by a church, any church and drop in isn't all that bad.

I find comfort in my running and that is when I think most about my friends, those close by and others long gone and family..I hope your writing continues through out the New Year, I enjoy reading it

Christa said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for continuing to be so supportive of this blog, runner52. Rest assured that I will absolutely keep writing. :)

lindan said...

Thanks for the post, very moving. I always wonder why I need to celebrate Christmas, as much as I resist it. Having grown up a Methodist, and no longer practicing - the only one in my family and apparently the rebel, in the words of my mother - it still feels like the right thing to do. I know the songs, I know the motions, and I do feel fulfilled when I hear the Christmas music. The music is nice but there is something lost on the message.
On a different level, it seems that in the job that I have, I am reminded on a daily basis - truly, it is daily - how lucky I am in my life with who I have become, the friends I have, and where I live - freakin NYC!! - and what I have. I realize that there is some superior force to thank. I look forward to knowing what that force is.... For now, I'll thank my fmaily. That's what Christmas is to me.

Christa said...

Hi Lindan,
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on Christmas and what it means to you. I fully understand where you're coming from. I am in the exact same place with it!

All my best,