December 20, 2012

Not Your Typical Holiday Greeting and Video

I had planned today to post the second of my two-part year-end look at my supplements -- the three I now take (Part 1) and the embarrassingly long list of those I used to take.  But then I realized this evening begins the four-day Christmas holiday weekend.  So I decided I to come up with a way to send "Season's Greetings."

My initial thought was to search for an appropriate video on YouTube. Once again, my  4 a.m. meditation came up with a video  idea. It;s not really connected to Christmas.  But then neither am I.


Christmas and Me
 I was raised as a Catholic.  I didn't attend a parochial school full-time but I did go for Catechism lessons on Friday afternoon.  And, throughout my childhood and early teens, I attended mass most every Sunday.

But in college, as often happens, I began questioning my faith. Looking back over my 83 years, I see a pattern of frequently careening from one side of the road to the other, never finding the middle of the road. I did this with my religion.  In a year's time, I went from being a practicing  Catholic to an avowed agnostic.

When I got married and started a family, church was not part of our lives.  My wife also was non-religious. But we did celebrate Christmas in the traditional way except we didn't go to church.

1978 was the turnaround year in my life. My wife and I had separated in November 1977 as a result of my finally coming to terms with my sexual orientation,  but we reconciled in early 1978 after she learned she had throat cancer.  In March, I started my recovery from alcoholism. In May, my wife died.  In the fall, my daughter left home for college,  My son was also living on his own.

I was living on my own for the first time  and reeling from all the changes.  The Alcoholics Anonymous program and meetings were a big help.  But I felt I needed all the bolstering I could get.  Several of my good friends in AA were involved with St. John's Episcopal Church, the one on Lafayette Square across from the White House.  I decided to go back to church.

St. John's became an important part of my newly sober life. A small group of AA friends and I attended the 9 a.m. service faithfully. I loved the music and ritual and the sermons. The Christmas Eve service at St. John's was the centerpiece of my Christmas.

But I still didn't fully subscribe to much of the Christian dogma and at times I felt like a hypocrite as I recited prayers and sang hymns while not really believing much of what I was saying and singing.  My Alcoholic Anonymous program presented a similar issue.   I soon realized that AA is a spiritual program.    The second of AA's 12 steps for recovery says we "came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore  us to sanity."

Although AA old-timers assured me that a belief in God is not required, God is often spoken of in the meetings. All the God talk bothered me some, but my AA sponsor assured me that all that was asked of me was to keep the door open to the possibility of a higher power that was spiritual in nature.

Both St. John's and AA convinced me that there was a higher power (affectionately known in AA as "HP") that was bigger than myself.  I finally became comfortable with the God talk in both places by deciding to substitute the word "love" every time "God" was mentioned.  Love became my HP.

Christmas Today
I still enjoy Christmas and its songs and traditions.  I actually like Thanksgiving better because it is focused more exclusively on family and friends without the commercialism that threatens to overwhelm Christmas. I enjoy the Nepali/Hindu festivals of Tihar and Dashain for the same reason.

I also  like the fact that Thanksgiving is not beholden to a single religion.  One of the things I love about both America  today and my life today is the growing mix of nationalities, races and religions.  I spent much of my 70's living and traveling in the Indian subcontinent with Nepal as my base.  Consequently people from that part of the world are heavily represented in my circle  of friends now.

Today a majority of my closest friends are Jews, Hindus, Muslims and, yes, nonbelievers. Christians are a minority but equally treasured.  In the U.S today, Christmas is not exclusively a religious holiday.  Many of its traditions are followed and cherished by non-Christians.

Now, Finally, My Choice for a Christmas Video
As I said, Love is my HP.  So the video I selected has little to do with  religion but it has a lot to do with love. And it's home made!  This is a video made by my Nepali housemates for the celebration Bhawana created recently for Nimesh 's birthday:


Season's Greetings and LOVE to all.

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