Every year around as the Christmas lights began to shine in our neighborhood. I'd beg my mom and dad for lights at our house. We celebrated Hanukkah and Christmas, although neither one religiously, but for some reason lights were NOT going to be on the outside of our house or in our yard. As I got older and went through several periods of "finding myself" and my religion or lack thereof, I began to understand. The lights signified a level of celebration that did not fit our family. We had a tree (a whole other story about my thematically decorating the tree - a white tree we one year with only red decorations I think - I read too many Good Housekeeping magazines), and Santa came but I don't think I knew anything about Jesus until I was in junior high.
This weekend, my Honey had the sweetest conversation with Peanut while we were at my moms for Hanukkah. They were talking about how wonderful it was and how lucky she is to be in a family that celebrates Hanukkah and Christmas. She is just beginning to understand the presents (she still says she wants chocolate ice cream for Christmas), and loves the lights of the candles in the Menorah and the lights in our neighbors yards. Every day, she asks to see "more Christmas!" and looks out the window to see the white and colored lights, the deer and polar bears, Santas and snowmen. Yesterday, we put up the Christmas tree and she entered the living room wide eyed after her nap and said "Christmas in OUR HOUSE!"
We've chosen to focus on the lights and the seasonal aspects of the holidays, rather than the commercial or religious parts. On my path, I have come to learn that many of the Christmas traditions started with the celebration of solstice. As an aside, I quite enjoyed the primetime reference to this from Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory , although there was of couse the requisite subtle bashing of those who celebrate Solstice. Honey tivoed (I actually had to look this up to see if it was a word and how to spell it) it and saved it for me... Maybe it is my rationalization, but I love Christmas lights and so does Peanut, so if we are celebrating the Solstice and honoring the light, shouldn't we decorate the outside of our house? I felt a little guilty last year when we put lights up on the two trees on either side of our front door. This year I'd love to expand on that a bit more and feel no guilt about it at all. Even if the outside world assumes that it means we are religious, I know it means we just love the lights and are shining them bright while we wait for the sun to come back and make our days longer.