I'm glad that this thread was bumped! Definitely subbing! I'm a Unitarian Universalist Christian who follows the rhythms of the natural world, with a non-observant Jewish husband. This time is simply magical for our family. Hanukkah is already over, but we are still in Advent as we gear up for Christmas and Winter Solstice is just days away. Yesterday, we went to a simple, little ritual for Winter Solstice geared towards very young children. Even though it's not on solstice proper, I jumped at the chance for our family to celebrate with a couple dozen other families with small children the solstice. My church (UU) is having a lay-led service on Solstice. We were planning to go, but my daughter is sick, so we will have to see how she is come Solstice.
I've been reading the thread, and I've heard a lot of laments about the patriarchal nature of Christianity. For Advent, I wanted to make sure that I focused on the religious nature of this season for me. One thing I did was read Marcus Borg's The First Christmas. I definitely walked away with a new appreciation of the birth stories of Jesus, particularly that of Luke's (which, by the way, is the story that is most represented in our dominant culture). Luke's story shows strong female characters in the form of Elizabeth and Mary. In Luke, angels reveal the birth of Jesus to shepherds - peasants! The focus of Matthew's birth story of Jesus is stressing the parallel's between Jesus and Moses, a pretty cool dude who led people out of slavery. I think there are a lot of stories of liberation of the poor, the outcast, and women in the Bible in general, and particularly in the stories about Jesus. If that wasn't true, I don't think that these would be the kinds of stories about God that I would want to share with my children or even the best lens for me to see God. The First Christmas, and other works of Borg, help me keep that focus, and I'd strongly recommend them to anyone who sees themselves as Christians, but struggle with conventional, patriarchal Christianity.
And if I haven't outed myself enough as a bookworm, I thought I'd share this passage from The winter Witch, a children's book by Cay Bonnyman Evans, about the season that I LOVE. In the story, a boy goes to a witch's home. She has him break the ice in a pond, and they talk for a bit. After a while, he sees animals come to the hole in the pond to drink water, and Mattie, the witch, tells him that this is her gift to them for the season. As she explains this, she says:
...it's a cold, dark time for all God's creatures. And no matter what you call it - Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, or just plain winter - it's a time to comfort others and shed light on darkness, whether from lights on a tree, menorah candles, or a glowing Yule log. For wild creatures, there's just starlight. But Stephen, it's all one light.
And for us, that's what the season is all about. Happy Winter Solstice and merry Christmas!