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  • Writer's pictureEsther Brownwood

Holy days


hol·​i·​day ˈhä-lə-ˌdā


an important Muslim holiday


: a day on which one is exempt from work

specifically : a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event

will be closed for the July 4th holiday

a national holiday

plans for the holiday weekend


chiefly British : vacation

—often used in the phrase on holiday

going on holiday

—often used in plural

spent the summer holidays in Spain

Hi there friends,

I can hardly believe we have entered the last month of the year. I still remember New Year's Eve like it was yesterday which got me thinking about holidays and how we find the courage to celebrate even in the times where it feels furthest from us.

These days, when the light passes in just a few short hours and darkness is more prevalent than ever, is a time for resting, slowing down and thinning back. I don’t know about you guys, but these past few weeks have been challenging to say the least.

For me personally it feels like a constant loop of grief, every time I think I have moved through it, it comes back around to start all over again. It has got me thinking about why we celebrate during these months, when to me at least, it can sometimes feel like there is nothing to celebrate.

Traditionally, the winter months are about resting and trusting that all the hard work we put in through the year will help us survive this time of darkness. Most of us live a very different life to this, the bustle never stops, even in these times, we are still working to ensure that normal life continues on.

What I have come to understand is that this phase of the year and of our lives truly is sacred. We can try to distract ourselves from the true nature of these times by giving in to external expectations, buying things and getting caught up in trying to create the perfect Christmas environment where everyone is happy and cheerful. Ultimately to me it feels like all of these things are the denial of reality, and therefore a waste of energy.

The exact reason we have these holidays in the darkest of months is not to push the difficult emotions away and act like everything is fine. We have cultivated these traditions and practices to be reminded of the love that we all share for each other, of the fact that it’s okay to not have everything figured out, and to rejoice in the simple pleasures of just being alive with people you love.

The word holiday is in and of itself sacred, it implies something holy, something whole, something bigger than us. It is the reminder that even if you’re feeling down and out, you are still whole, you are still here worthy of love and celebration, not because you gave the best gift, or cooked the yummiest meal, just because you have made it this far.

It is an act of rejoicing despite the hardships and acknowledging that we have made it through together, on this planet that still supports us, on the days we have acknowledged as something bigger than us, something more powerful, something that is always whole; holy.

I used to think that the holidays were about happiness and more about presenting a version of yourself that has it all figured out, than actually being true to you. I never wanted to ruin the holiday spirit or bring people down with my reality. It always seemed like a time where everyone pretended that the difficulties were not as real as they were. A time of performance.

This year I will not pretend, I will honor the parts of me who have struggled to make it here, I will let myself grieve and cry and feel all of the difficult emotions that have surfaced. I will accept the healing and the wholeness of these holy days tradition has blessed us with. I will accept that even the pain is holy and necessary. I will accept joy if it comes my way, and if it doesn’t I will not push. I will accept that healing is exactly what creates wholeness, and I will not deny myself the journey especially on the days we have cultivated for exactly this.

My present to myself will be this exactly: unapologetic presence. One that I do not have to control or change or shift in order to be accepted by anyone, especially myself. If I bring the mood down, so be it, the pain must be acknowledged and there is no better time to let all of yourself be seen than the holiest of days, the days when God is as close as we can let him be.

So this month, I truly hope you all just let yourself be, any form, any mood, any pain. It is all holy, and these are exactly the days to honor that!

Merry Christmas if you celebrate and Happy (Or not happy!) Holidays!

I’ll see you again next year, until then, don’t forget that no matter what: I love you.

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