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Celebrating the holidays

With so many different traditions, it is nice to look for a common purpose. (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

Looking back on the lessons learned from 2020, I’ve decided I’m going to celebrate all the holidays. As many as possible. I’m sure there have been more than one cultural clash, but I do enjoy a reoccurring theme of peace.

Before I get accused of cultural appropriation, please understand that I believe that if I am celebrating something to honor my friends’ traditions as well as learn something new, it is not appropriation. There is a difference between cultural appreciation and appropriation. I am not ridiculing our differences, and I am not deliberately disrespecting anyone’s beliefs or customs.

Hanukkah has just ended, and I like to honor my friends through this Festival of Lights. I do it with permission. I don’t make a big deal out of it or involve my family. I’ve done this for years to honor celebrations held with previous roommates. I don’t play games I don’t understand or make specific food, but I do like to light a candle each night in memory of anyone celebrating. It makes me feel connected to my friends near and far.

Christmas is right around the corner, and I was speaking to a friend about her church’s outdoor Christmas Eve service. Her church and many others have had to adapt services to be outside as well as figure out ways to reach their parishioners online or through outreach. Having a service under the stars allows for ways to commune with nature while being open to all. We have other friends who will have already celebrated Christmas because their traditions end on the 24th.

A few friends will celebrate Kwanzaa between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Maneuvering through a pandemic and protests, 2020 has put systemic racism in the spotlight throughout our country. It has also allowed me to reflect upon my own contribution to it, no matter how unwittingly. One friend suggested I ponder the seven Kwanzaa principles and find ways to apply each daily value.

The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter, which is always memorable. Connecting with nature is another way I pay my respects to my friends’ wide-range of beliefs and traditions. There are other holidays I’ve yet to touch upon, but the balance is searching and respecting each one of them.

Zoom meets are inevitable as we all try to not gather in large groups. The good news is between the last days of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, Zoom has removed the 40-minute time limit. So even if you can’t gather in the same house, you can gather over Zoom to share traditions old and new. Stay safe. Peace to all.

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