Before I get to blog 3 of the 12 blogs of Christmas I wanted to share my bloggers challenge card here first. The challenge was ornamental. Below is my version. I used papertrey ink's winterberry combined with some Echo Park Christmas papers. I love how it came out with the less traditional Christmas colors.
So, on to the Christmas blogs.
Today's topic is 'What I don't want for Christmas.' For me that is easy. I don't want RELIGION. Instead I want true faith manifesting itself in love. And yes, I think there is a difference.
Some of my fondest Christmas memories are from a catholic church. Growing up, we didn't go to church often (Christmas and Easter mostly) but I loved going to midnight mass at Christmas. I loved dressing up, going into the auditorium (our local church wasn't fancy), seeing it all decorated with the manager scene and seeing friends and neighbors. The music was so special and I just loved that experience, although honestly at the time, I had no idea what any of it meant.
My other fond memory of Christmas in a catholic church was in Hawaii. Our family decided to do a 'destination Christmas celebration' in Maui back in 2001. There weren't many churches near our condo, but there was a catholic church doing a 7pm service. It was awesome. The priest was Hawaiian and he had on a Hawaiian shirt under his robes. They did the traditional Christmas songs like silent night with hula dancers. It was so genuine and beautiful and captured the beauty of the religion in a local custom way. I loved it. At that time we had started attending a non-denominational protestant church, now Faith Community Church in Hopkinton and I loved how I was so much more familiar with the bible passages and could worship in unity with other Christians - though we each celebrated our common faith slightly differently. Out of respect for the Catholic church, we did not participate in communion and respected all aspects of the differences in our religion, but thoroughly enjoyed worshiping the same Jesus Christ together in unity.
So what does this have to do with my not wanting religion for Christmas? Well, it's simple. I often see true faith expressed in traditional religion. My two examples above are situations where local people practiced a traditional religious custom with faith and love and I experienced that love alongside them. However, I think that isn't always the case. I think many times when people practice religion it is not genuine. I think people often feel 'they have to' and don't want to and do it out of obligation and guilt. I see that in religions of all types - even my own protestant faith. So I guess what I don't want for Christmas is that kind of obligatory religion. At Christmas, and really any time, people should practice their religion with real faith and joy, and that is what I want for you for Christmas.