As I started writing this, I had to concentrate to correctly remember the year (wait, 2020 or 2021?) and the month (yes, December already). December 2021. My how time flies! If you are like me, navigating the ‘new normal’ this year has taken more time than I really care for, so what I want under my tree and in my stocking (and anywhere else gifts might hide) is a blanket, a pillow, and a ten-day nap! I’ll be spending the festive season this year between two families – my chosen family in Munich and my birth family in the US. At the moment, I am in the thick of searching for presents for everyone. Today I paused from scouring websites and Black Friday sales to ponder why I am giving gifts. I am reminded of the Biblical story of Christmas that included a brightly shining star which guided the Magi to a king. The gifts they brought him were the finest of the finest. And then the shock on their faces when they arrived to see this new guy in charge was only an infant. Can’t you see the little fella trying to figure out what the heck to do with frankincense and myrrh? So, shall I go for the wow factor and pick up the latest and greatest gadgets, or shall I forgo fun for function? I’d rather be sleeping.
A few years ago, I began observing Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is a yearly celebration of African-American culture that is held in late December it is based on African harvest traditions and celebrations. Kwanzaa dates back 1966, and it is a daily celebration of seven principles which are observed on the days between December 26 and January 1. Each principle has a Swahili name and there is a daily ritual of lighting a candle and meditating on the ideas embodied by Kwanzaa as it becomes the day’s mantra.