Halloween ushers in the holidays for me and I love the holidays. A friend has his Christmas party Oct. 31. Seeing the big eyes of the trick-or-treaters was delightful as he handed out treats on his front stoop under the glow of Christmas lights.
Thanksgiving captivates me as I think of courageous ancestors in the Mayflower’s hold on heaving seas. I am grateful to the Wampanoag Indians who befriended and taught the Pilgrims how to survive in their new home.
Thanksgiving, with the Pilgrims expressing gratitude toward their spiritual benefactor and acknowledging their Wampanoag friends, was simple fare abundantly added to by their native guests baring deer and turkey. Men competed with arrow and musket and races of speed and agility. Women shared culinary secrets and knowledge of spinning from Holland and tanning from the New World. Children gleefully taught one another games and cultural knowledge. All shared storytelling around the fires late into the evenings. It was a coming together to bask in the warmth of sharing respective legends, histories, and culture.
Then along comes Christmas. How I love Christmas! I love the lights, the presents, the feasts, the cacophony of children and bells, of laughter and carols. I am a kid at heart. I love giving gifts and the excitement of opening presents. I love piles of packages under the tree — the best are those passed down through the family or an archival find. Give me a book from the 1800s any day rather than one printed yesterday. Pass on a piece of jewelry worn by an ancestor or a rickety rocker rather than a sterile piece of steel we now deem furniture.
Christmas is spiritual for me, it is Santa, St. Nick, La Befana and Kriss Kringle all rolled into one. I love the legends and how they wrap around the beliefs of our different cultures. Charles Dickens with his “A Christmas Carol” and Clement Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” replicate England’s Father Christmas and the Pilgrims’ Sinterklaas.
Whether it is Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, the theme of sharing and brotherly kindness weaves through our traditions. Even Halloween transcends the “trickster” with the kindness of the open door and “treaters” sharing their bounty.
Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa are just a few of the winter celebrations that inspire the gift of life and the interchange of kindness and faith. Whether it’s the menorah lights the table or the candle in the window that guides the wayfaring stranger or adorns the wreath on the head of a young girl, light is part of our winter remembrances. Bleak, sepulchral darkness envelops our lives early on a winter’s eve.
Celebrations of light remind us that within each day there will be another sunrise, symbolizing that within each of us there is a luminosity of spirit and character: the essence of a life force that brings brilliance, mettle, vigor and zest to those with whom we interact and form a synergy for the betterment of ourselves, our homes, our families and our community.
Feasting together and sharing our larder are part of our revelry. We exchange cookies and bestow gifts to recognize the worth of another person in our lives.
The Dutch brought the legend of Sinterklaas and his helper, Pete, to New Amsterdam (New York) as he filled the children’s wooden shoes with treats. From Russia to the Mediterranean, St. Nicholas is loved by the children and poor alike for his generosity. Grandfather Frost and his granddaughter Snegurochka (Snow Girl) couple their gift giving with storytelling and poetry.
Whether it is Julenissen who harnesses his reindeer in Norway, Shengdan Laoren in China, Santo Clos in Mexico, or La Befana in Italy, Santa traverses our globe, reminding us of the value of each innocent child, of generosity for the poor, and that we are part of a greater family of mankind.
We are interconnected through legends and DNA. What we do with our world affects each of us. A ripple effect transcends our globe. Random acts of kindness not only benefit our own town, each act of kindness repeated by another, then another, can eventually touch the life of someone on the other side of the world. Isn’t this what Santa teaches us?
This holiday season follow Santa’s lead — spread cheer.
No matter your lot in life, there is someone who will cross your path today or next week who can be lifted by a smile, help crossing the street, a small bag of groceries, or reading a story to a child. Be kinder than necessary. Remember, each person you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Santa needs many helpers. Become one of his elves and learn why Santa is such a happy guy.
Happy Hanukkah, merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Heri za Kwanzaa, Mele Kalikimaka!
Cat Trico has been a resident of Boulder City since 2003 and is a past president of the Senior Center and co-founder of the Decker Lake Wetlands Preserve. As an author and editor, she contributed to “Rights, Responsibilities, and Relationships” for youth. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.