yesterday I was laying on a couch in my baby sister’s living room while her two outstanding children crawled, walked and jumped all over me. in front of me was their Christmas tree, covered in lights and ornaments, some handmade by the children.
I had the thought, as I often do: how would I explain this to an offworlder? to another species, if I was the one who had to explain a ritual in which I participated, to someone not from here, not familiar with humans.
I have this thought in part because I want to be prepared to interact with aliens if and when the chance comes. of course.
and also because I sometimes feel so far removed from these rituals that it is hard to reroot myself in the purpose and beauty of them.
not to be misleading…I love presents, anticipation, decadent home cooked meals. but every year I also find myself disgusted by the mass produced capitalistic orgy of holidays, which seems to swallow the joyful intentions up whole. this makes me grinch out inside for a while.
but on the couch, for a moment, it was so clear. the kids were giggling, burrowing and pushing, making my body a bridge, a fort, a tightrope, a trampoline. and the moment got still and quiet.
all ritual can be sacred, if we tune in to the aspect which is about connecting.
the ritual of taking time to give to each other, to be with each other, feed each other, play with the children and reflect on what we have in our lives…this is the most common ritual. it spans belief systems.
we live in a capitalist world, so it is imperative to root down deeper into an experience than what socialized capitalism generally encourages…under the hunting/gathering flush of shopping, to the part of these rituals which is the moment of being in love.
the babies were already deeply immersed in the ritual, and if no gifts come they will still be fine, because they get it. it’s about being happy, being loved, being with. they are experts at being present and pulling others into their worlds of fantasy and laughter.
the perfection they gift to others is their whole selves, their presence.
they are at an age where they are not ashamed to be loving, to run across the house, jump up and fall down with joy to see someone they love. I want to be that free with my love.
I don’t want to be a grinch this year, though my analysis of capitalism is intact. I don’t want to be too good for rituals of love.
i know what I would tell the aliens…all of these lights, and boxes, this flurry of activity – its supposed to be about expressing love to each other. many of us have forgotten that, have only been able to hold onto the materialism.
but this is how the generations in my family have said they loved each other through the boundaries of a repressed society. when we had nothing, we created things for each other. the gifts are supposed to show we are thinking of each other, we cherish each other.
what I see with the kids is that the action of being with each other is so much more important than the things.
so my practice this holiday is simple: being present. i can leave the materialism aside, for the most part. the true gift, which the children know, is leaving work at the door and being present with each other.
and the beautiful, selfish little miracle is: presence gives in all directions.