Today, according to most "Western" calendars is June 25th. That means that for most people who celebrate Christmas in some fashion, today is exactly 6 months since last Christmas, as well as 6 months until this Christmas.
I love symmetry, don't you?
For the last few years I have used June 25th as sort of a "Mini-Christmas". Not much else is going on this time of year by way of celebratory holidays, anyway, other then the American Independence Day.
Many people/companies actually use July 25th, (aka, "Christmas in July") to do similar things, in order to pick up some extra dollars in what is otherwise a retail waste land. (July-September.) Some resorts go all out for it. Theme parties and everything. I don't go to all of that, but I'll sometimes pop in one of my Christmas CDs while I am cooking dinner that day. Or I may go to bed watching a Christmas movie. (Again in June as opposed to July, because I am a very symmetrical person in many ways.)
The point is, Christmas is never further away, technically, than it is today.
Which is why I also use today as a bit of a meditation. Despite my being more spiritual than officially religious, I follow the spirit of Christmas, (charity, mercy, gentleness, and all of that). There does seem to be a bit more of those things during the holidays. At least outwardly. (Unless you are at the mall...)
But I try to make those attitudes part of what I am, and not simply a side-effect of a specific holiday. (Which in many ways has become massively corporate and kitschy in some circles.) I want to show goodwill toward men, and recognize the miraculous in my daily life, not just between Thanksgiving and New Year's. As the Salvation Army bellringers, (they and their signs being a Christmastime staple in their own right) remind us;
"Hunger knows no season."
Indeed. Which is why, as an adult, I have tried to delve into my soul and bring out by myself at all times of the year, what the pine trees, cookies, music, (good AND bad) and Charlie Brown bring out somewhat more easily for me during December; a connection between my humanity, and the Divine.
So I whistle a few carols when it's 94 degrees outside. It's fun, and a reminder that it isn't in fact those tunes that make the real holiday what it is. Christmas is a state of being, not just a time of year. I can create inside of me what it means to me. I can conjure up and manifest the nobler aspects of my nature when I choose to do so. I don't need the trimmings. They are nice, and I cherish tradition and ritual to a great deal. But as I get older I seek to remind myself that such things are there to serve man in his journey...not for man to stop his journey in order to serve them.
That isn't to say that we can change the things that happen around us much. Those of you who have gotten to know me realize that I have quite a few ridiculous obstacles that have been thrown in front of me rather often in the past. But I do have the power to alter how quickly I recover from same. When and where I can shine a light.
Which means, friends, that you don't have to celebrate Christmas for the lesson of June 25th to apply. It can be a day that is 6 months on from any day that to you symbolizes and celebrates the better angels of our nature. Birthdays. A wedding anniversary. The Solstice. It doesn't much matter, so long as you take a moment during a day long removed from those holidays/recognitions to remember that whatever those days mean for you is actually what you bring to those days. What you muster up from within your spirit to shine upon the rituals of whatever observance it happens to be. Take some time, six months away from your most important day of the year, to ask yourself if the day puts those things inside of you, or if it is YOU that puts those miraculous things inside the day.
And if you find that you can put them into that day, whatever it is, you can put them into any day. Every day. You can be a holiday unto yourself.
What are your most meaningful times of the year? What rituals do they contain? What do you bring to them? What do you do when those rituals and holidays are long passed to keep their spirit alive within you all the time?