AA per_(.)(.)_tive : Quakers / Christmas - 2

Mary Calhoun moriah at preferred.com
Wed Dec 15 11:39:35 JEST 1999

per_(.)(.)_tive from the Administrative Assistant's inbox--

Quakers on Christmas

_(^)(^)_ the following seemed worth sharing...

from Chattanooga Friends Meeting's "Friendly Voice:"


  Part 2 of 3

 "How exactly to simplify is a very individual thing"
     Some approached the problem in very practical terms.  This was
illustrated in one-email which suggested, "How *exactly* to simplify is a
very individual thing....but probably you can simplify your home celebration
without incurring the wrath of relatives....just because YOU want to
simplify doesn't mean the rest of the family wants to; nor will they
appreciate you telling them what to do."
     "You might talk it over with your immediate family & find out what
items and customs are considered essential & what are not important & in
fact are burdensome to the person responsible.  Specifics that work for us
but *not*  necessarily you are:"
     "1.  Skipping the decorating the house part, including not having a
tree.  You save a lot of work there, especially when it comes time to
dismantle the whole works & everybody suddenly has something else to do! I
mean there's Xmas trees *everywhere* at Xmas time & having another one at
home is fairly redundant!!  But your feelings may very.  The object is *not*
 to feel deprived by rather joyous without all the superfluous trappings.
Skip a lot of the baking too while you're at it."
     "2.  Not giving *any* gifts at all is not compulsory if there is
resistance to the idea....we draw names amongst the extended family,
siblings, parents & cousins & buy one small gift per person, but you need
everybody to agree on that idea so....maybe you could introduce the idea
this year with hopes of implementing it by next Xmas.  Cut back gradually?
Oh & we usually ask the person what they 'need' if we are not sure....it
avoids having more useless stuff pile up unwanted."
     "3.  Have a family project to give something to someone who really
needs  it.  We all put in our loose change from the year which we have let
pile up in bowls & boxes.  It's usually a grand sum & get the kids involved
sorting  & wrapping the change to take to the bank & deciding who to give it
to....i.e., we did the Heifer project last year , or the Milk & Mittens
thing the AFSC was doing one time, or a local homeless shelter, etc."
     "4.  Maybe most important is to not place too much emphasis on the
exact  *DAY* itself or it can be really tiring.... spread the fun out for a
long season & enjoy the simple pleasures of EVERYDAY so that when Xmas day
itself is past you don't have a let down feeling & you aren't exhausted
either!!  This could be seen as just an extension of "How we are simplifying
lives  in general."  Make it a time to enjoy each other's company; not a
marathon  of activity."

 "Quakers should love it a little more.  Merry Christmas!"
     Not all reactions to Christmas were negative, however.  Once Friend
argued, "Every day IS holy.  But that does not mean that you can't have any
fun.  Christmas is based on a number of earlier mid-winter festivals that
make so much sense to me.  I don't know where you live but in my area of
Canada, winter is cold and dark -- so the idea of brightening up the world
 with colored lights (the whole uptown area is ABLAZE) is simply wonderful.
 My wife is not a Quaker (nor a Christian) but we love Christmas because it
 is a time of family and friends coming together to share fellowship, good
 food, wine (and a drop of whiskey, purely medicinal), presents (modest
 presents, please, I'm a Quaker!)."
     "The testimony of simplicity does not mean that you cannot appreciate
 abundance, especially when it is shared.  Presents can be simple and there
 are ways to make sure that no one goes overboard.  For example, one gift
 each or handmade gifts.  Some of my most prized possessions are the 95 cent
 books my parents gave to me when I was a little boy, signed 'Christmas,
 Mom and Dad."
     "A day does not have to 'holy' for a celebration.  I celebrate my
 birthday and I don't think anyone would consider that holy.  Celebrate
 Christmas as a festival of family warmth and friendship and celebrate it
 also as the birth of Jesus, even though the date and location are no doubt
 wrong (Nazareth, not Bethlehem).  The Christmas  story is beautiful, even
 a little inaccurate historically.  Imagine:  a child who would grow up to
 the prince of peace and love, born in such humble surroundings.   Kids love
 it.  I love it.  Quakers should love it a little more. Merry Christmas!  I
can hardly wait."

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~   to be continued...

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