The phrase ‘Home for the holidays’ evokes many responses: shudders, joy, depression, escape, (add your feelings here). Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Al Hijra or Kwanzaa, we are all beckoned to come home this time of year. The attitude we go home with is our choice.
Our movies celebrate both the light and the dark times of the holidays. Whether it's "It's A Wonderful Life or "The Family Stone", it seems we have to go through the darkness to get to the light, to get to the hope and happiness.
Many people have deep unconscious beliefs left over from childhood that the holidays should be happy. But when we look at the symbolism of the holiday, darkness is always part of the story. When we understand the Wheel of the Year, we understand the cycles of life, growth, harvest, death and life-renewed. And when we celebrate these cycles, they help structure our lives and our expectations. They ground us in the energies of life here on Earth.
The coming holidays take their symbolism from the fact that at Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere (the shortest day of the year), the sunlight starts to grow again. The Winter Solstice symbolizes a re-birth of light in all its aspects, even within each one of us.
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It is during this time of year that the light can be re-born within us, no matter how worried, frustrated or depressed we are. When we participate in these sacred times, we take the opportunity to re-charge our hopes and beliefs.The return of the light is a promise of continued life in the coming year.
Of all the Christmas traditions, I love Christmas trees best.The evergreen tree symbolizes eternal life. I love to smell its living green smell in my house; I love to see the lights, shining out of the living green; I love to see the ornaments, each an image of our wishes for the New Year, appearing and disappearing in the nooks and crannies of pine branches. In the cold, dark days of December, the tree is a haven of calm and beauty, a magical presence suddenly allowed into our everyday world. It’s a perfect symbol for the holidays.
The re-birth of the light out of the darkness was always considered a sacred time, a time of celebration and life. Whether we celebrate the magical flames of Hanukkah, the Divine Child of Christmas, or the returning light of the Winter Solstice Sun -- we are called to celebrate life and hope, even in the midst of hardship and despair.
This year, before you go home, take time to come home to yourself. Know what new life you are hoping for in the New Year, and make it the warm fire around which you spend your holidays.
Sherene Schostak is a Jungian psychotherapist, author and metaphysician who specializes in helping creative artists transform their addictions and blocks. She has been in private practice in New York City for the past 13 years consulting, writing and... read more