By: Vince DiPasquale
What a season! Not only is it the end of the year but it is filled with dates to celebrate. It’s a time of the year when we feel a different kind of spirit. A time of generosity, caring and sharing which we were taught to do year round. It’s a time to renew our commitment to each other.
For me the holidays were always a time for prayer and family get-togethers. As a small child I lived in a time when all of us resided in one neighborhood, the Italian section of Camden. It was like one big family. I must have had about 50 Godmothers and Godfathers. The holidays were always a time to celebrate and live out traditions. It was a time of fun and presents.
Yet really what do all of these celebrations mean? Let’s take time to look at all of these traditions through the eyes of personal growth and discovery.
The season begins with Thanksgiving, a time to reflect on gratitude and sharing. In our recovery program we have so much to be thankful for. Through the gift of the 12 Steps we are given the chance to grow in self-love and to discover the miracle in all of us.
The month of December begins with the Feast of St. Nick. His tradition is one of sharing. I call him the saint of service to others. We are taught when we reach out and share our gifts with others we will be rewarded a hundredfold.
The next tradition is the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. To all of us in recovery it symbolizes the progression of growth. We are reminded that if we live one day at a time, keep life simple and just enjoy each day, we will be lighting the candles of life inside us. Remember that spiritual growth is a process, slow and steady, one day at a time. We are reminded that all healthy growth takes place inch by inch.
Next we will experience the lighting of the Christmas tree and the mystery of Santa Claus. Both of these traditions teach me how to activate the power of the positivity and beauty in each of us. Even though we live in a dysfunctional world, we are taught by the beautiful lighted tree and decorations that as we grow as people, we will gradually discover our beauty and strength from each experience we go through. From every negative we will light up the positive lessons of life. Try through prayer and meditation to look at life as a great teacher. Santa Claus reminds us of the magic in each one of us. We are all miracles in the process of being discovered. Santa is the spirit of play, celebration and joy. Remember there is a Santa Claus in all of us getting ready to be born. All of these wonderful traditions; from the Great Pumpkin, Rafiki in The Lion King, from the Easter Beagle to Santa Claus tell us to believe in the magic within us. Take time to watch The Polar Express, a great recovery movie. Look for the magic and mystery in our daily journey of life.
Next we celebrate the Feast of the Child, Christmas. The Christmas Story has always been to me a beautiful message of recovery. There are so many symbols in the story. The journey of Mary and Joseph symbolize the journey of life. Everything that is worthwhile comes through struggle and work. We are reminded that from each struggle some good will come from it if we stay open to the process of life. Remember that God walks with us even when we don’t think so. The stable represents a gathering place for family, prayers and support. The Child is God telling each one of us to discover the Child within us. We are all God’s creations on a journey to discover the Child within. Remember that a child is the closest connection to God. This tells us that we will be guided. If we follow the star of life it will lead us to the Child. The star and the angels are guides. The 12 Steps of Recovery are our spiritual principles for a good, healthy journey. The shepherds and wise men remind us that we are all equal in the eyes of God. Worldly possessions mean nothing, they are temporary. If we share them at all times with others they will come back to us a hundredfold.
Kwanza is a time for gratitude and a celebration of Gods’ gifts. It is a renewal of our personal history and identification. It’s a time to celebrate our connection to family and our Creator. It reminds us of the importance of traditions.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day remind us to be grateful for the lessons of the past year and to be open to God’s will for us in the year to come. The whole month speaks of gratitude and openness during this special time of the year.
Take time each day to renew your commitment to personal growth through family celebrations and prayer. Enjoy these special days in God’s spirit.
May God bless you!