Friday, December 27, 2019

Cultural Disconnects at Christmas

Being on vacation out of town during the Christmas season provides many cultural disconnects.  In years that I'm not out of town, I realize that I also feel a bit of cultural disconnect when I'm in town.  In short, I'm an adult without children, so I have a variety of customs.  And since I live in South Florida, I'm already disconnected a bit from the traditional cultural holiday stuff.  There will be no snowy white Christmas where I live, and if we roast chestnuts on an open fire it will be part of an outdoor firepit, not an indoor hearth.

For someone who celebrates feast days, the Christmas season is also a disconnect.  I am late to the feast day celebrations, so I don't have a long tradition with this disconnect.  Many of us will get to experience this disconnect on Sunday if we go to churches where we will hear about Herod.  But yesterday was the feast day of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and the Christmas stories never travels far from deeply threatening.  Individuals are threatened, empires are threatened, subcultures are threatened.

But much of the story stays submerged when I'm away from my house on vacation.  I'm surrounded by traditional Christmas music and decorations.  There's not a lot of Christ in Christmas, no matter where I go--and that's not necessarily a problem.  It's not like I'm surrounded by creche scenes and Chrismons if I'm at home.  But at home, the decorations have some meaning.  Out here in vacationland, the decorations are generic, the music is only occasionally meaningful (meaning I recognize the singer, and I've heard the version before).

Today I went to my past blog posts to remember where we are in the feast day cycle.  Today (I think) is one of the few days between Christmas and New Year's where we don't have a feast day.

Today is one of my last days on vacation.  Next week it's back to work.  I already miss the various cultural holiday stuff that takes over in the month of December:  the Advent stuff, the Christmas stuff, the solstice stuff, the Hanukkah stuff, the end of the year stuff, the feast day stuff.  I want the other seasons (of life, of feast days) to provide the same level of meaning, the same undergirding and foundation.  But they just don't.

And maybe it's time to accept that in the way that I can accept the cultural disconnects that come with Christmas.  Maybe I should celebrate throughout the year when I see the deeper meaning waving at me, attracting my attention.  I'll continue looking for ways to make the connections as the year goes along.  It won't be the same as Christmas, but maybe the ultimate cultural disconnect would be to be O.K. with this.

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