Christmas has always been my all-time favorite part of the year.
Well, maybe it's in a tie with Halloween. And hot summer days on the lake. Regardless, I love Christmas because of the magic it creates and for the love I feel on Christmas Day and the eve before.
I love Christmas because of childhood memories of waking up at 3 a.m. and excitedly but cautiously making my way towards the Christmas tree to see if Santa had come yet. I was never disappointed, and the magical feeling of seeing a new toy bathed in the soft glow of the tree's light has never left me. I call it the Christmas Feeling, but it's a feeling that still crops up, occasionally, year-round.
As sacrilegious as it may seem to say this, Christmas for me isn't about the birth of Christ, but about love, generosity, thankfulness and family. All things Christ represents, I suppose, but I reject the story of Jesus' birth happening in a manger on Dec. 25.
Not long ago a friend saw some of my writing here about my search for spirituality and asked me questions about what I believe. She's a devout Christian and a giving, loving human. She asked if I had ever considered Christianity and then invited me to her church.
I respectfully declined.
The truth is, I have considered Christianity very carefully and I appreciate many of the values it teaches (and loathe others). What I cannot accept are the stories behind the religion; Christmas being one of them.
I try to keep an open and respectful eye on all of humanity. Humans have been on Earth much longer than 2,000 years and through it all, humanity has one constant: a desire for the spiritual. It seems people today don't give credit to the advances and traditions of ancient people. December 25th and the winter solstice have been important as early as 4500 BC; acknowledged in everything from ancient Ireland's Newgrange burial chamber, Babylon's Isis and Osiris myths, the Roman's Festival of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun, and the modern day story of Christ's birth.
When Roman Emperor Constantine declared Christianity the official religion in 350, other forms of worshiping were banned. Rather than changing old traditions, Pope Julius I declared Dec. 25 Christ's birthday.
My intent here isn't to persuade people away from Jesus' story. I believe Christ was a real person, an heir of God, who's purpose was to spread the message of love. If your truth lies in Christianity, revel in it!
During the holiday season, it's the Christmas Feeling that I celebrate though, along with many thousands of years of humanity's desire to celebrate our planet, our families and the love that holds us all together.
Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth, friends.
Travis Griffith, who recently left behind the corporate marketing world, choosing family and writing in lieu of “a comfortable life” financially, is a former atheist trying to define what leading a spiritual life really means. His children’s book, Your Father Forever, published in 2005 by Illumination Arts Publishing Company, Inc. captures only a fraction of his passion for fatherhood.