In the Meantime,
Yes, today is the winter solstice, although to be fair it is also the summer solstice. As with so many things, where you are defines what is going on. Here in Phoenix, north of the equator, the sun rose at 730 am and will go down at 530 pm. In Cape Town, which I have visited, and is as far south of the equator as Phoenix is north, the sun rose at 530 am, and will set around 8 pm. In astronomy everything is relative, as Einstein proved, but that also applies to human ways.
Christmas, for example. The story is told from two different perspectives. The manger and angels are in Luke, the star and the wise men are in Matthew. Except for the people and the place, there is no overlap. The other two gospels have no birth stories at all. You might think that if it were so momentous they might have said something. After a million pageants, though, we assume there is just the one story of Jesus.
Something you may not know is that the Qu’ran has a nativity story as well, and very different from the Bible, but including the virgin birth. And also lots more about Mary (Maryam) who gets more attention in the Qu’ran than the Bible. Some of our Muslim friends in Michigan set up a creche in their homes because Jesus is as sacred to them as Muhammad.
Many Jews also like it, although for different reasons. In my Brooklyn days, our UU church would host a Christmas dinner for residents of a nursing home. The Reform Temple would do the cooking, including ham by the way, and then sing Christmas carols for the residents. I asked the rabbi if there wasn’t a paradox there, and he said, “We love Christmas carols, but we can only sing them here.” The spirit of generosity and kindness that Christmas brings is among the shloshim devarim, ‘three things,’ that Jews say sustain the world – gemilut hasadim, deeds of kindness.
So, if you have mixed feelings about Christmas ‘come sit by me,’ as Alice Roosevelt Longworth had embroidered on a pillow. It is not only acceptable but appropriate. Christmas is many things, from joyous to preposterous, glad to sad. Its continuing power comes from that complexity and to feel complex emotions is exactly right. They are all gifts, in their way, and each has something we need. -FW
PS: I will be in Michigan starting January 6 to be of help to Wendy. I shall be serving you from there for a few weeks. It is my plan to be with you in Arizona at least half the time through June, though specifics are hard to ascertain right now.
PPS: In early December I wrote a letter to the local clergy in response to a vitriolic antisemtic tirade at the November 21 Chandler Board of Education meeting. I invited the VUU Board to affirm this act on my part, which they did.
It is attached here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13CE2GdCb-XygDLROC8PiVOt6s13WyeLfZhsmhS7Xcjk/edit?usp=sharing