I never celebrated holidays as a child–well, up until I left for college. My family was Jehovah’s Witnesses, so that meant nothing “wordly”: no birthdays, no Christmas, definitely no Easter.
I parted ways with the JW once I left Kentucky and never looked back. My grandmother was the most religious one in my family. Once she passed, my mother, my uncle, and my cousin curtailed their participation in the church, eventually resulting in one or two scattered meetings they attended each year, but with none of the same dedication as before.
Since that break, I’ve not been tied to any sort of religion or religious practices. That lack of a relationship with religion wasn’t one I thought about deeply for many years. Now, though, with E, I find myself looking for some sort of spiritual guidance or presence in our lives. Over the last year or so, I’ve had some occasions to be inside different churches, and have encouraged myself to be open to what I see, hear, think, and feel in those places. I don’t even know what I’m listening for: To be welcomed? To feel at home? To feel that I could linger, to stay a while?
Then, there are the holidays, tied with religious meaning (or, at least it seems they originated with religion and then…), or not. I find myself either being completely over the top when it comes to a holiday (Pinterest boards, thinking really hard about the gifts I want to give to E and to others) or at a loss about what to do (i.e., Easter: baskets?! bunnies?!). Birthdays?!
I’ve struck a compromise with myself. The four gifts (something to read, wear, want, need) are a good way to help me think about giving, as well as keeping my spending in check. What has been a source of freedom and delight is figuring out how I want to recognize these holidays with E. We can start our own traditions, learn the religious stories that they are founded on as we go–if we want to. Perhaps that’s the most significant change between my experiences with religion then and now. Then, I went to church because I had to and disliked every part of it. Now, I’m much more interested in the spiritual aspect of religion, of the why of it and of what it contributes to making life feel more lived and worth living.
Who knows is this interest will take us to a brick-and-mortar church or to a more spiritual one that is not contained to physical walls. What I do know is that I’m open to wherever the Universe tells me to go. I’m willing.