For many of us, the holidays are a time to connect with family and friends, to catch up on stories and journeys over food and drink, and to spend time with loved ones. Some of us revel in the excitement of getting that must-have LeapPad for the precious 4 year old in our lives, the wrapping, decorating, baking, cooking, welcoming, visiting, eating. Others of us sigh, take a deep breath and trudge on through it. There are those of us who would prefer to avoid the holiday season altogether, when all the bustle brings out the snark and growl in us. For some of us, the holiday season accentuates pain and loss, tragedy and grief. Others of us find quiet moments of meaning and joy to keep us sane and help us celebrate. Many of us give of our time and resources. Some of us work during this season – writing and delivering sermons, ministering, coordinating, conducting, singing, and maybe collapsing at the end of December.
Whoever you are, wherever you find yourselves, and however you find meaning this December, may we remember these (paraphrased) words from Victoria Safford:
“We already possess all the gifts we need; we’ve already received our presents: music in our souls, the light of imagination in our minds, the ability to build peace on earth, and to hold each other tight in love.”
Here’s what some of our congregations and communities are doing this December (with apologies to those congregations who aren’t represented here – a full list of congregations and their websites is at http://cuc.ca/congregations/):
- Comox Valley Unitarian Fellowship: enjoy a Multigenerational Yule celebration and a Winter Solstice Contemplation.
- Unitarian Church of Vancouver: celebrates the beauty of the season with a Yuletide pageant for all ages.
- First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo: celebrates with a Winter Solstice and Candlelit Christmas.
- Unitarian Church of Calgary: enfolds those for whom December is a difficult time with a Blue Christmas evening, and sermon titled “Born For Me?”
- Westwood Unitarian Congregation: shares the light with a Winter Solstice celebration.
- Unitarian Congregation of Saskatoon: holds a Winter Solstice celebration, tells Unitarian Christmas stories, and sings out the old year.
- Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough: recognizes pain and loss with a Blue Christmas Sundown service, holds a Winter Solstice Multigenerational Service, and Christmas Eve candelight service.
- Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship: meditates on ageing gratefully, love and wellness, and tells the Christmas story.
- First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto: mused about the Grinch’s discovery about our yearning for connection and “Living with an Enlarged Heart.”
- Neighbourhood UU Congregation: spends December pondering the theme of hope, holds the Annual Solstice Service, and a Christmas Eve pageant.
- UU Fellowship of Ottawa: focuses on self care, giving, simple living and sharing.
- UU Church of Halifax: holds its second annual Blue Christmas service at Bearly’s House of Blues, and meditates on the joys of Christmas.
- UUEstrie (North Hatley): celebrates with candlelight, carols and a Wassail.
For a special holiday treat, Rev. Wendy Luella Perkins generously shares her updated video and song of “Every Night a Holy Night,” inspired by “Each Night a Child is Born is a Holy Night” by UU educator, Sophia Lyon Fahs. Wendy says, “The video features images of newborns and their people set to the background of starry nights and snowy scenes (mostly friends and neighbours). Please feel free to use it in a service over the holiday season (it works well as a prelude or meditation), send it around on FaceBook, link it from your congregation’s website, etc. If you do use it, please include: ©2013 Used with permission — Rev. Wendy Luella Perkins www.wendyluellaperkins.com.”