Merry Xmas, Christmas, Yule, Saturnalia, Holidays…it doesn’t really matter what it’s called, because the meaning is the same: this is the time of renewal, when we slough off the old year and the wearisome encrustations that have built up and look forward to the new. It is the time when our sun, Sol, which has been slipping lower and lower in the sky, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere, stops, and begins to rise again, bringing with it the promise of warmth.
Everybody who knows me knows that I am not a theist; yet the underlying message that is contained in all the stories that surround this crucial moment in the calendar is always the same: Renewal. With renewal comes forgiveness and hope, and whether or not Christ was ever a real man who walked this earth, the message that surrounds his myth is quintessentially that: only love can forgive, and from love comes hope. As an atheist, or a pantheist, it’s not necessary to believe all the other parts of the Christian—or any other—mythology to appreciate this part of the meaning.
So, tomorrow, the 25th of December, is the first day that the rise of the sun can be observed. It will most likely be cloudy, as today is here, in Central France.
So right now, on the eve of that triumphal rebirth, when mighty Sol begins to return, while time seems still frozen in the caught breath of the Solstice, I am really missing my children, whom I love very much. I’m sorry we can’t be together this time, but I want you to know how much I am thinking of you. That my hopes are invested in you, for you happiness in the future, for life is at times a troublesome and tortuous road, and in the end, we walk it alone.
I miss and all the lovers I have had in my life; no matter how long or short a time we shared each other, you left part of you in me, and that will be with me always. I miss my brothers, both my younger and my older, whom I didn’t find out about until only a few years ago, and my nephews and niece, and all the rest of my family.
I miss my Dad, and I wish I could have known him better; but alas, it was not given I miss my Mum, hugely, and not a day goes by but I do not think of her, and all that she did for me. She was the best Mum in all the world.
I miss my friends, very much, those I have known many years and those I have met but lately; every one of you has enriched my life and I will be forever in your debt for that; I only hope I have reciprocated.
This is the time when we think most of those who are distant. But soon, the days will grow longer and the darkness will lessen; my children will visit, or I will visit them; friends will meet again; laughter will ring out; life will renew. And I thank science and Quantum Mechanics for Skype and Facebook, which allow us to stay close even when so far apart.
Life will renew; life always renews. In the end, that is all there is; we are stardust, heavy elements formed into living beings possessed of the ability to ask the eternal questions: ‘How came I here? And what does it mean?’
Well, how we came here is well explained and understood, but the second question less so. Of course there is no real purpose, other than to replicate our genes; we are but the vehicles of that mechanism. Yet as thinking apes, we do need purpose.
That purpose doesn’t come from outside us, but inside. We decide our own mission objectives; life does not set them for us, though we may choose to espouse a belief that makes it appear so.
Considering and redefining that purpose is a very great part of this time of year, not just for me, but for everyone. It’s why we have ‘New Year Resolutions’. I wish you all very well in your reflection on the year past, and absolutely the best, wherever you are, in the year to come.