December 25, 2008

Merry Christma-Hanu-Rama-Solsti-Kwanzakkah! Um, Happy Festivous?

Today is an American Sabbat. Whether you celebrate the religious Christian aspect of it or not, today is definitely a holiday. Banks are closed, doesn't that automatically make it a holiday?

So, as an American Sabbat, here is what I perceive Christmas is all about: family, multicultural foods, and commerce.

Family: Everywhere you go, you are offered wishes for "you and yours." At the holidays, you start to hear names of peoples' family members that you never hear mentioned the rest of the year. And this is the most expensive and hectic travel time of the year, yet bazillions of people still make the pilgrimage to see family they may not have seen all year...or for years and years. Lots of forgiveness happens at this time of year in families. AND, sometimes familes choose to utilize this time of year to re-up their negative patterns as well. Nevertheless, however we choose to engage with our families, this is the time of year to do it.

Multicultural foods: At this time of the year, the diverse palate of this nation really shines. I wander down the aisles of any kind of market, big or small, and see delicacies that I never see the rest of the year: plum puddings and stollens and tamales (well, OK, you can get those anytime, but they are really big right now), and sausages of exotic provenance- many of the blood variety. We truly get to see how varied the tastes are among the different cultures that live here. Even as you read this, my family in New York is enjoying pierogies, a Polish dumpling stuffed with little sweet and savory morsels. Each year we get them from St. John's Church, frozen by the dozen. A club of Polish ladies in the church makes them as a fundraiser- about 17,000 of them. It must be an exceedingly lucrative fundraiser. Of course, you have to be picky about your labor. My dad says you have to have the right kind of thumbs to be able to make pierogies- the short and stubby thumbs of Polish women are the only ones that will do the job correctly. My mom says she'll save some in the deep freeze for when I come visit in January. I hope my dad doesn't find them. I told her to mark them "green beans."

Commerce: OK, I have one thing to say here - Christmas is a better stimulus for the economy than any bailout. The sheer shopping-ness of this holiday helps many businesses stay open througout the rest of the year. I saw an article in a newspaper (can't remember which one) that was talking about how this year, due to budgetary constraints, people really wanted to give gifts that were personal and had meaning. Something that maybe cost little but meant a lot. You know what that translated into? Good business for small businesses like ours. Sure, we feel the pinch right now like everyone else, but peoples' committment to meaningful gifts this year drove a lot of traffic through our doors. And we were really happy to oblige with some awesome, handmade, local, unique, and inspiring items. It was fun to help people find that perfect thing on a budget of any size. It was a blessing to see how many people are starting to turn their families and loved ones on to the crystal and stone magic, the tarot cards, and other tools for spiritual work. A Sabbat of commerce, and one that is good for the little guys like us.

So ya know what? These are things to feel good about. They make up an American Sabbat that I can get behind. They are small tokens of esteem for a nation that, despite hardship, is working things out. Whether you're Christian or pagan or anything else, think about the lines from this extremely pagan-sounding carol, from our family at The Sacred Well to yours:

"Through the years we all will be together
if the Fates allow.
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
and have yourself a Merry little Christmas now."