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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Caramelize Me

Caramelize Me

Hiding Our Abuses

I first faced it five years when chemotherapy triggered the memories that I so carefully tried to bury for 50 years. I was molested and raped four times, but the worst one was when I was 14, I'm now 65. He is now in prison, but not for rape, even though he raped at least 6 other girls that summer. He is serving life in prison for first degree murder after shooting another boy in the back. Once in prison, he was also charged with raping another prison inmate.

I think we as a society need to improve sex education for everyone.. not only the mechanics of sex, which I received very little of when I was younger, but also anatomy, emotions, communication, respect and consent. I see men as much victims in this as anyone else, because they have been given the idea that sex is theirs for the taking and so they do. And that mentality is getting worse. No one told them about respect and consent, just to sow their wild oats, that if they become aroused by a woman, it's her fault, that they have the right to take what they want and no doesn't really mean no, and boys will be boys. Both genders need to be told that sex is normal, healthy and acceptable without guilt and fear that so much of religion and society demands and teaches.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas Joy

Fill your house with the holiday fragrance of cloves, orange peel, and cinnamon sticks by simmering them in water on the kitchen stove. ~ Christmas Joys

Happy Holidays

I am writing a book about the history of Christmas. I've been working on this book for the past five years. Last year I wrote this article that I shared with a few people using information from the research for my book.

It's long and I'm sure most people won't read this article, much less my book, for two reasons... it's long, and because too many people don't have enough faith in their own beliefs to be open minded not only to other ideas but also the history of their own religion. I hope I'm wrong about both.

Merry Christmas, Happy Yule and Blessings of Light, Peace and Joy!

I'm hoping my holiday greeting covers all of my friends and family, all of whom follow a variety of religious beliefs. I keep seeing online and on Facebook that this time of year the only "acceptable" greeting is Merry Christmas. This attitude makes me very sad. Shouldn't the very fact that someone is wishing you well and hoping you have a good Christmas more important than the words that are used? Shouldn't it be the spirit of the season? Isn't this the season of "peace and good will"?

I had a "friend" who told me that if I sent a Christmas card that said anything other than Merry Christmas, she would tear it up and destroy it. I was very hurt by that. Obviously, the words "Merry Christmas" were more important to her than my feelings and our friendship.

Christianity is not a religion for everyone around the world, and it never will be, no matter how much some people push it. Religion should always be a choice and having it forced on others takes away that choice.

Acceptance, or the very least, tolerance, for other belief systems shouldn't not too much to ask. If other people's beliefs are such a threat to them, they must not have very much "faith" in their own beliefs...

This time of year I get so frustrated with the messages that many Christians insist are, or should be true, for everyone...

Like "Jesus is the reason for the season".. I tell my Christian friends.. "well, he is for you, and I'm happy that is the case for you, but it's not true for everyone. Please respect other people's choices, too."

Or "Wise men still seek him".. meaning that if you are a non-Christian you are not wise and are lost. Tolkien wrote.. "not all who wander are lost" and one thing I learned in church that I still carry with me is that all humans have a "god-given" right to free will. That means the free will to decide what is true for themselves.

I just read on person's comment to a "discussion" that historians have determined "without a doubt" that Jesus was born on Dec 25th. Now I'm a historian and a theologist and I've never found any such proof of that anywhere. There is no mention of "Christmas" in the bible, none. And people who insist that there is, obviously haven't read the bible. I have. Cover to cover more than a dozen times. I started studying Biblical history in 1980 when I was introduced to it by a Catholic priest. Because I've been fascinated by history of all kinds since I was nine and have researched family history since I was 15, this was a natural progression for me. I started studying comparative religion and world religions in 1998, and had planned to become an interfaith minister.

There people who are trying to put "Christ back into Christmas" because there is a war on Christmas against Christians (but only in the small minds of Fox news) so they write Christmas as CHRISTmas and insist that you only can say Merry Christmas. Anything else is a direct attack on Christians, at least in their eyes.

Christmas was "adopted" as the birthday of Jesus because no one really knows when he was born. Scholars have suggested that it could be anywhere from September to March. The bible doesn't say and even the books that mention the Nativity contradict one another.

Christmas was originally "Christ's Mass", as festivals in general were considered too Pagan and against church doctrines. Christ's Mass was in recognition for Jesus' DEATH, not his birth. It was a celebration of the Eucharist, basically communion, and it was only celebrated by the clergy. Between the peasantry wanting to be thought of as worldly and the church wanting to get more people to convert to Christianity, Christ's Mass was slowly offered to the congregation, but those Masses took place anywhere from September to January, depending on the Parish.

And for those who also believe that writing Christmas as "Xmas" is a direct attack on Christians and Christmas.... this is why you need to study history. This was told to me by the Catholic Priest. Most peasants were not able to read or write. But they understood that X was a letter that symbolized Christ; X is the first letter of the Greek word Christos. (The early church used the first two letters of Christos in the Greek alphabet 'chi' and 'rho' to create a monogram to represent Jesus.)  When the peasants saw signs that said X-mass (Christ's Mass), they knew they were welcome to attend this special mass.

With the new converts, former Pagans from Rome, Greece, Germania, North countries and Celtic regions, came a whole slew of established traditions which the church absorbed to keep the Pagans happy. December 25th was finally settled on as the official date of Christmas for three main reasons; Celtic Pagans celebrated Winter Solstice on Dec 21st. Roman Pagans celebrated Saturnalia around December 15th, and December 25th was the feast day, or birthday, of a Roman God named Mithra, which was popular about the same time that Christianity started to flourish.

The church decided that this would make everyone happy and they would get their converts. The Pagans didn't care one way or another (for the most part) as long as they were not forced to give up their holiday traditions. Of course, not everyone agreed with this. The Orthodox faction of the church used this as one of many reasons to break away from the what is now the Catholic church and the Orthodox churches continued to celebrate Christmas on January 6th, which was the original date of Christmas, not December 25th.

They set a precedence that anyone who didn't agree with established church teachings were free to go and start their own church. Well, maybe not free, but they did it anyway. Which is why, according to the site Religious Tolerance, there are over 34,000 different Christian denominations worldwide. So when you say something is "Christian" which denomination are you referring to?

When Christmas was first recognized in the 4th century, it was meant to be a time of reflection and prayer, never a fun time, and certainly not a birthday, since to early Christians and Hebrews, birthdays were a Pagan concept and didn't fit with church doctrines. Which is why some Christian denominations do not acknowledge birthdays or Christmas even today.

Christmas as a joyous, festive holiday came later as the different traditions blended with one another and each group adopted the new ideas, including the church.

But even then and since then, not everyone saw Christmas as a "Christian" holiday. In the 1500's, Luther and Calvin banned all ideas concerning Christmas. If it wasn't mentioned in the Bible, it was not truly Christian.

In 1659, the Puritans outlawed Christmas in the colonies and that went in and out of favor depending on who was in charge. Christmas as we know it today was not even celebrated until the mid 1700's and then only sporadically.

In fact, Christmas was basically "illegal" in the United States until the mid 1800's, the legality of it was largely ignored, although in some communities, people were arrested for celebrating the holiday.

Christmas did not become a legal holiday in the US until 1856. And the words "Merry Christmas" being a "Christian" idea? No, in fact using the words "Merry Christmas" was at one time considered to be a very un-Christian things to do, because it brought to mind drinking and partying and not all the "sober" kind of holiday most Christians wanted to be.

So it just shows how everything, including Christmas greetings has evolved over time. In the Victorian era, the most common greeting at Christmastime was "Seasons Greetings".

I remember hearing once in church that Christmas had been celebrated every single years since that first Christmas when Jesus was born. History clearly shows that isn't true. Now, don't get me wrong. I love the Nativity story. I have several Nativity sets that put out each year. But I don't believe it's a historical event, especially since so many other cultures have similar stories. The Bible was never intended to be a history book.

In 1500 years a lot of things changed and blended to make it what it is now.. which is essentially a secular holiday. According the Pew Report, only 54% of Americans and less than 40% worldwide celebrate Christmas as a Christian holiday or in any kind of religious context. And those numbers are dropping steadily. Nothing stays static, it changes constantly.

It might surprise many Christians to know that a lot of Atheists, Pagans, Buddhists, Hindus and even some Jews and Muslims celebrates Christmas too, as a secular celebration, complete with Christmas trees, gifts, lights, feasts and charity. So it's clearly not just a religious or Christian holiday anymore and even history shows it really never was, it was just adopted as one.

Now I don't expect you to believe me just based on what I wrote here. But I do expect that if you are going to insist that everyone abide by your way of doing things, you at least go and study the history of what you are insisting on. Most people only know about the history of their own religion from what's on TV, on social media or what is taught in their own church.

And in my education in theology and ministry and my experience of being a member of a dozen different Christian denominations tells me that most churches only teach what they want their followers to know. In fact, one of the reason I quit theology classes was seeing fellow students laughing about why they wanted to become ministers and it had nothing to do with faith and everything to do with control. But that is a whole 'nother rant.


Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays

Happy Christmas

Have a Cool Yule

Happy Hanukkah

Solstice Blessings

Saturnalia Luck

Happy Bodhi Day

Happy St. Nickolas Day

Happy St. Lucia Day

Happy Sol Invictis

Blessings for Dongzhi and Pancha Ganapati

Special blessings for Mother's Night and Winter Blot (also called Winternight).

Now, that should cover just about most of the December holidays. Now you know why many people just say simply "Happy Holidays"..... And there is nothing wrong with that, nor there shouldn't be.

Feast of Lights

Not that long ago, Christmas was only one day... December 25th. People didn't put up their trees until the night before and shopping didn't happen until around the 20th. Forget about stores advertising about sales and buying quickly.

Then families started celebrating two days, the 24th and 25th to make the two sides of the family feel included. Trees were still freshly cut and dried out too quickly to allow them to be put up much earlier than the 21st. This fit with the Pagan celebrations of Yule, where they often decorated with 'hanging of the greens' ceremonies. People started moving further away from one another that meant they needed to start their Christmas shopping a little earlier in order to mail them across the country. Still decorating was limited to two weeks before Christmas.

A time came that stores started realizing that the major portion of their income came in the weeks before Christmas. They started making a big deal on the day after Thanksgiving. That Friday was reserved for the kick off day for the Christmas season. Stores hired people to work late Thanksgiving night for the grand unveiling of the Christmas decorations on Friday morning. Santa arrived at the malls, after he had traveled down 34th Street in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. We still had the division between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What happen? Now Christmas items start showing up in some stores in August. Decorations are for sale with Halloween costumes and the stores start their Christmas decorating in mid-November. Santa has already been at the malls for two weeks!! On TV there are shows dedicated on how to survive Black Friday!! It's like boot camp for shoppers. Sales that never happened until Dec 26th are advertised a month earlier.

Jewish families often felt like they had to compete with Christmas, giving more and more gifts than the traditional 8 that normally was given to children.

This is nuts!!!

While I'm not a Christian, I still believe that the Christmas season is meant to be about family, love, appreciation, warmth and light. It's never meant to be about gross commercialization. Even in the original movie "Miracle on 34th Street", they talk about selling simply to make a profit, and that was almost 60 years ago. Have we learned nothing since then? It's become so much worse than the writers of the movie could have ever dreamed.

Out of frustration by the blatant commercialization of Christmas and other winter holidays, and the friction between so many different religions and belief systems, I have decided to create my own "holiday". If others can do this, why can't I? It's the same feeling I had about my own belief system, when I started calling myself an Eclectic Spiritualist. So this is what I have come with... a blend of many belief systems and winter holidays, as well as my own personal touches...

So, what do you think... would you like to join me in celebrating "A Feast of Lights"?

Feast of Lights People of Many Flames Blends activities and events from many belief systems such Celtic Pagan Yule, Jewish Hannakah, African-American Kwanzaa, Indian Diwali, Swedish St. Lucia, Thai Loy Krathong, Mexican Las Posadas, Russian Christmas, Moravian Lovefeasts, Dutch and German St. Nicholas Day, Twelfth Night, Arabian Ramadan.

This is not meant to replace any cultural celebrations, but to add to them, a bringing people and cultures together to show we are not that far apart in our beliefs. They all share one common element.. the gift of light.

Rather than have a set day for this, use it as a movable feast. I plan to celebrate the weekend before Christmas.

My Yule Feast of Lights Game Plan

Just some ideas.... of course add and adapt to your own needs.

8 candle Menorah plus one lighting candle (purple)

Each candle represents a sabbat of the year, a religion, culture and people

red (Native American)
white (European)
black (African)
yellow (Asian)
brown (Hispanic)
green (Pagan)
blue (Oceanic)
pink (Angelic)
orange (Eastern Indian)

8 Characteristics

4 elements and directions

north earth
west water
south fire
east air

Menu (based on traditional foods of the above cultural holidays)
Set up a table for each group: seafood, entrees, salads, desserts, beverages
Use gold chargers as trays and bowls (gold plastic disposable) or bread and tortilla bowls

Clam Chowder
Smoked Salmon
Crab Cakes
Seafood Gratin
Scalloped Oysters
Homemade Applesauce
Macaroni and Cheese
Roast Beast (Prime Rib)
Mashed potatoes
Roast Turkey
Turkey gravy
Vegan Cashew Nut Roast with Sage and Onion Stuffing
Broccoli Salad
Blue and Pear Salad
Caesar Salad
Fruit Salad
Assorted Olives
Homemade Breads
Wine, Mead, Sparkling Cider, Beer, Ale
Hot Buttered Rum
Hot Cider

Caramel Mini Cheescakes
Shortbread cookies stamped with pentacle
Mini apple pies
Mini creme brulees
Gingerbread cupcakes
Red velvet cupcakes
Yule Log Cake
Angel food cake
Dried Fruit
Cut out sugar cookies
Rocky road cookies
Snowballs cookies
Pecan Tassies
Candy Cane Cookies
Mini HoHo's



Setting up altars
Three: one for past, one for present, one for future

Memory Altar and Candlelighting (photos of departed love ones and ancestors, flowers, and candles)

Hanging of the Greens, Mistletoe and Poinsettia

Burning a yule log

Burning incense

Candlelighting ceremony.. bringing the light into the darkness

Meditations, prayers, invocations, poems

Calling the quarters and archangels

Singing and music

Creative Endeavors (sewing, crocheting, etc) perhaps for charity

Favors: Evergreen Seedling as a gift for each guest

Talent show (poetry reading, one act plays, singing, playing an instrument, telling jokes)


Chocolate gold covered coins (for prosperity)

Family History

Unity Cup and Candle

Driedel Game
Children play with a driedel (spinning top) which has letters which represent words, on the four sides. NESS means miracle, GADOL means great, HAYAH means happened and SHAM means here. ("A great miracle happened here", referring to the oil lasting eight days.)

Gift-giving (homemade or recycled gifts only)

Gift Exchange Game

Wearing white robes or clothing (symbolizes cleansing)

Water therapy

Past life regression

Float flowers, origami paper boats and candles in water

Birth (Jesus, Horus, and other virgin birth legends) and Rebirth

Balloon release in memory of those who have died

Writing/Compiling your own "Bible" (a book of your beliefs, ideas and traditions). The word "bible" is just short for the word "bibliography" which means a collection of books, stories, ideas and bound together. It's the belief in it that makes it holy.

Listen to holiday music; classic, popular, and ethnic

Read Christmas Books aloud; such as The Night Before Christmas, Dicken's A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, The Christmas Shoes, The Polar Express, Gift of the Magi, Hanukkah Bear by Eric A. Kimmel, Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko, Pablo’s Christmas by Hugo C. Martin, Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis.. just for starters.

Turn off all lights except the Christmas lights and listen to instruments of Christmas and holiday songs.

Attend Candlelight Service at a local church, even if you are not Christian.

Turn off all lights, except the Christmas tree lights, prepare a big bowl of popcorn, some hot cider and a plate of Christmas cookies and watch three of your favorite Christmas movie videos such as "The Santa Clause", "A Christmas Story", or "The Polar Express".

Go for an evening walk, look for the "North Star" and make a wish.

Play Christmas board games; there are Christmas versions of Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit

Invite a bunch of friends, family and neighbors to go Christmas Caroling and end up back home for hot chocolate.

Make a holiday scrapbook using all of those photos from past winter holidays.

If you have snow: make a snowman and snow angels, have a snowball fight, go sledding, build an igloo, go cross country skiing or snowshowing.

Make paperbag, sand, and votive candle luminarias.

Bake simple cut out cookies using dairy case cookie dough, cookie cutters and canned frosting.

Make orange and whole clove pomander balls, dry in the oven.

Work on a Christmas or holiday jigsaw puzzle

Make homemade candy (molded chocolate, fudge, divinity, peanut brittle)

Visit a live nativity scene. When we were active and devout Christians, we participated in this at the church we were attending. It left lasting warm memories for me.

Attend a religious service or program that you don't normally attend.

Go to a Christmas movie matinee at the local theater... movies before 6pm are usually cheaper

Go ice skating

Drive around and look at Christmas lights

Go to a stage performance of Dickens's Christmas Carol

Watch family videos, look at slides and look through photo albums of past holidays

Have an "M&M" Night; Mall (look at decorations), Movie (Christmas movie at a Theater), and Munchies (Home for Ice Cream Sundaes)

Attend a performance of the Nutcracker Ballet performed by a local dance school.

Attend a performance of the Messiah and/our participate in a Messiah Sing

Decorate the trees outside for the birds with strings of popcorn and cranberries, little orange baskets, and pinecones with peanut butter and bird seeds

Make mulled cider

Have a taffy pull

Have the kids put together a holiday concert using kid's instruments, homemade instruments, and song books

Have a candlelight dinner

Have a family fondue fireside supper

Go on a sleigh ride

Visit Santa Claus and get a family picture taken

Trace your family history and talk about how Christmas, Hanukkah or other winter holidays were different for each generation

Take a family portrait by the Christmas tree or outside in the snow

Buy new toys to donate to Toys for Tots, canned food for a food drive

Volunteer as a family to help serve food at a Mission soup kitchen

Walk around your downtown area looking at the Christmas window displays

Have a Winter Solstice bonfire, roast marshmallows, tell stories of Christmas' of old, sing Christmas carols.

Make a batch of bread dough (flour, salt and water) and make Christmas or Hanukkah ornaments.

Take a small Christmas tree, a Christmas wreath, or graveblanket to the grave of a family member who died.

Go to Midnight Mass, even if you aren't Catholic

Make plans to attend a Boar's Head Festival, which usually takes place sometime between Christmas and Twelfth Night

Honor Boxing Day on the 26th with a quiet tea and cookies and soft classical music, and use this time to give of your time, experience, skills and money to charity.

Light candles and have each person tell what they are grateful for and what accomplishments they are most proud of.

Build and decorate a gingerbread house

Visit a nursing home and take homemade cookies and little gifts to the residents.

Have the entire family write and contribute to a family newsletter... add stories, drawings, poems, jokes, recipes and photos. Print off of your computer and send to family and friends.

Research Christmas and Winter Holiday traditions of other countries (online or at the library) and recreate one or two in your own family.

Go shopping at a secondhand store for dress-up clothes and then put on a Christmas or holiday play.

Make a collage using old Christmas cards and photos glued on to a large artist's canvas. Frame hang in a place of honor.

Make homemade Christmas tree decorations... (lots of ideas online); string popcorn and whole cranberries, make chains out of paper or ribbon.

Learn to say Merry Christmas in other languages

Write letters... to friends, to family members, to former teachers, to Santa Claus thanking them for being in your life.

Make homemade potpourri using flower petals, orange peels, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and pinecones.. give some as gifts.

Use the month of December as family art month... provide paper, artist canvases, watercolor paints, acrylics, glitter, scissors and glue, colored pencils... encourage everyone to do art work (drawing, sketching, collage, painting, altered books). But old frames at a second hand store. Paint those all black. Frame each piece of artwork and unveil as an art gallery Christmas or Hanukkah night.

Encourage everyone to write holiday poems and make a Holiday Poetry Chapbook on your computer.

Decorate a dollhouse for Christmas

If you live near a coastal community, check to see if there is a Christmas Ship Parade

Get out the sleeping bags and sleep by the Christmas tree. Fix eggnog French toast for breakfast.

Have a holiday healing session; back and foot massages, meditation, working with crystals and aromatherapy

Decorate blue, red or white sweatshirts and tee shirts with fabric paints

Make holiday prayer beads with red, white, green and gold beads; prayer beads are not just Catholic, or even Christian. Many religions use them.

Cut out paper snowflakes

Participate in a Jingle Bell Run if your city has one.

Check out free or inexpensive shows, concerts and events at your local college...

Make a family quilt. Give everyone a square of white muslin and fabric pens... Ask them to draw or write something about Christmas or Hanukkah. Have everyone help to sew the squares together, perhaps with other squares in green and red...

Watch the movie Soul Food which is a wonderful example of family.

Try your hand at drumming.

Dance with the Earth and with each other.

Sing songs of the sacred, of hope, and of power; loudly  - just for fun - with a room full of people.

For people all over the world, this celebration reminds us that darkness yields to light, the sun and warmth returns, and spring will follow winter. We can help the process, as our ancestors thought they did, by loving one another, and each of us living our life as a candle lighting other candles, which 'chases away the darkness and encourages the light to return.' To discourage consumerism and commercialism, and focus on the spirituality and family aspects of holidays and not just spending huge amount of money to impress and buy love.

© 2005 Rose Bliss Permission to share freely as long as credit is given.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Things To Do At Christmas

Cover the house in fairy lights
Visit your local Christmas Market
Make mulled wine or cider
Bake gingerbread
Prepare Christmas pudding
Sing at a carol service
Send Christmas cards
Go to your local town’s Christmas tree lighting
Make your own advent calendar
Decorate your Christmas tree
Make a wreath for the front door (or cheat and buy one)
Compile your own Christmas playlist
Decorate the house
Create your ideal Christmas Day menu
Kiss under the mistletoe
Visit Santa
Make some homemade gifts
Play board games
Hide chocolate coins around the house
Go Christmas shopping in local stores
Plan a Christmas party
Build a snowman
Make paper snowflakes
Knit a hat or scarf
Visit your Grandparents, parents, relatives
Make a Christmas Day centerpiece for the table
Buy some woolly socks
Make Christmas Cake
Volunteer your time with homeless and hungry people of your community
Watch It’s a Wonderful Life
Leave out milk and cookies for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph
Hang up your stockings
Go sledding
Sing carols
Put coins in the the local Salvation Army bucket
Watch A Christmas Carol
Sit around a fire and warm your cockles
Make DIY gift tags
Go ice skating
Go to watch The Nutcracker ballet
Roast chestnuts on an open fire (or in the oven)
Donate to your chosen charity
Make a Yule Log
Write a list of everything you are grateful for
Drink eggnog
Make luxurious hot chocolate
Make paperchains
Have a snowball fight
Make your own snow globe
Wear a Santa hat
Dance to cheesy Christmas songs
Make your own Christmas tree ornament
Make dried oranges to decorate your home
Take an outing to a town or village you’ve never been to before
Wear lots of layers and take a winter’s walk in the woods
Start a new Christmas tradition with your family/friends
Do a random act of kindness
Make your own wrapping paper
Stuff the stockings
Host a decorating Christmas cookie exchange party
Write a letter to Santa
Make a wish
Make a Christmas cocktail
Drive around to see the Christmas lights
Buy yourself a Christmas present and wrap it for under the tree
Bake cinnamon rolls
Spend the day in your pajamas
Organize a Secret Santa
Light a candle and give thanks
Take a family portrait
Read The Night Before Christmas

Worldwide Candle Lighting

Some people go to Compassionate Friends meeting events and others do this from privacy of their own homes. We've done both. The light then goes around the world in waves.
On the December 11, 2016, The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting will unite family and friends around the globe in lighting candles for one hour to honor the memories of the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren who left too soon. As candles are lit at 7:00 p.m. local time, hundreds of thousands of persons commemorate and honor the memory of all children gone too soon. TCF’s WCL started in the United States in 1997 as a small internet observance, but has since swelled in numbers as word has spread throughout the world of the remembrance of children who have died, but will never be forgotten.

So Called War On Christmas

I don't understand all of these problems about the "War on Christmas".

Christmas is suppose to be a time of love and sharing. Isn't that the message that Jesus taught? And yet, I constantly see messages from some Christians who demand that Christmas is a Christian holiday so keep your mitts off if you are not one.

I'm the same person I was when I was a Christian. Nothing about me changed except for my personal belief, which is just that... personal.

If Jesus taught to love and share, shouldn't that pertain to the holiday that bears his name? What is wrong with sharing it with Pagans and Atheists?

No one is telling Christians they need change how they celebrate the holiday or practice their faith. Okay, there are some, but they are a minority. Has any Christian been told they can't put up a Christmas tree or go to church on Christmas morning? Or hide their Bibles from anyone?

Most of us who believe in live and let live, no matter what our belief system is, are the majority.

Christmas is not an original holiday, it evolved over time blending traditions from many different cultures. Why is that bad?

With technology, the world will continue to get smaller and more of this will be happening. Again, why is that bad?

My feeling is that if your faith is strong in your own personal belief system, it shouldn't matter what other people believe. But if you have a need to have everyone agree with you and believe the same thing as you do, then perhaps your faith isn't as strong as you would like people to think.

Christmas provides different things for different people, at a time when they need those kinds of things the most... of hope, of love, of sharing, of faith, and of peace. Why would anyone deny these things to others?

I have had friends and family members who have "disowned" me when they found out I wasn't a Christian, and they seem to have this attitude too. I realize they just believe what they are being told to believe. I wish they would learn to think for themselves, and learn about the real history of their religion.

"Christmas is a contrived holiday. Most of it was taken by the Church to lure Pagans INTO the church."

You'll never be able to get some people to understand and except this. I have had people tell me that Christmas has been celebrated since that first Christmas and always the way it is now. And I've been a member of churches who actually teach that very same thing. But that's not true. Christmas wasn't even an occasion until the 4th century and not even a legal holiday in this country until the mid 1800's.

Two things that I study tend to come together especially this time of the year... History and world religions.

Christmas traditions come from many different cultures; Celtic, Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Armenian, Nordic, Germanic, Ancient European, and Mithraism. Mithras' birthday was celebrated on Dec 25th, and this date along with the Pagan dates of Yule, Winter Solstice and Saturnalia, were all adopted in the 4th century by the church, to "encourage" non-Christians to convert. December 25th was designated as to be the celebration of Jesus' birth, but it really isn't his birthday and there is no mention of Christmas anywhere in the Bible.

Before that, the only important feast day on the Christian calendar was Easter (also celebrated much differently then than it is now). But if you look at most Christians sites online, most of them omit all of that, and either state that Christmas is only a Christian holiday or that Christians should not celebrate Christmas because of it's Pagan roots.

We all have roots and I'll bet the way we live now is drastically different than they way our ancestors live. But do we disown them because they were different? Not usually.

But come Christmas time and it's a whole different story. Including the ridiculous idea about what is printed on coffee cups.

We should celebrate our histories, especially at Christmastime.

I have English, Irish, Scottish, German, Dutch, French, South American, and Scandinavian roots and I love to learn about the traditions that came from my ancestors. But I also enjoy learning about traditions of other religions including Judaism and Islam. Just because I wouldn't practice one of these religions, it doesn't mean I can't appreciate learning about their traditions too.

Why are people so threatened by the past?