“A day of festivity when no work is done” is a definition of “holiday”, which I recently found. Somehow that just doesn’t capture the essence of the original, which was defined as “holy day”.
Why should we care about this transformation of the definition? Because the current definition focuses on oneself, and the original focuses on something or someone beyond oneself. The original is not about an escape into “what I want”, but is about giving recognition to something that frees one from self-absorption.
The upcoming holiday, Christmas, is an opportunity to put our own wants aside and see more of what Christ Jesus represented to mankind. It doesn’t matter what faith one follows to know and feel the regenerating effect of love for God or Good and for mankind, which lifts our thought beyond the swirl of concerns that affect us, and resets it in the direction of others.
Irrespective of the name of the holiday one acknowledges, gifting is a way that we take the focus off of ourselves and consider what we can do for someone else. It is not about the “thing” but about the unselfing of our thoughts and acts. Jesus is an example of one who gave all to others. His sense of holy day was every day. The caring, teaching and healing, which he performed, were not an escape from work but a lifting up of the nature of work. It was love, truly divine Love, at work. That is what I especially cherish at this time.
Humbly and simply, we can engage in such selfless acts to whatever degree we are willing. Letting go of self-absorption and seeking ways to reach out to others’ needs is always a holy day.
May each find these holy days joy-filled.