The final bits of the turkey should by now be in a stock and the last of the pies scarfed down. As we glide into the end of the year, with people skating at the ICE rink, and shoppers threatening each other for parking spots, let’s take a quick minute to think about the great depth of observances that are coming our way.

This is not about the “war on Christmas” – which truly is “Fake News” – it’s about being aware of the wider society in which we live. As a very loosely defined Christian, I go to church about once a year, usually on Christmas Eve for Midnight Mass.

My philosophical bent is Christian in nature in that I believe in the few words of Christ, the “red words” as it were, and leave most of the other religious commandments alone.

I believe that we should treat others as we wish to be treated, be forgiving in all things and care for the downtrodden.
Oddly that is very similar to many of the other world religions.

It’s funny how the big thinkers of spirituality all seem to come essentially the same conclusions on how to lead a happy and fulfilling life.

Certainly there are those who twist, pervert and manipulate these teachings for their own ends, but that is nothing new.

Humanity is inherently selfish and self-centered – it’s a survival thing left over from the dawn of time. This vestigial sense of entitlement is hardwired and we have to overcome it with intentional action – hence the need for a set of spiritual principles.

Each year there is usually a concurrence of religious and spiritual activities from November to January and this year is no different.

This Friday is the Prophet’s Birthday for those who are Muslim. Some will celebrate it and some will not. Like all religions there is a great variance in the range of those who favor strict adherence to a text and those who want to expand and modernize.

So some of my Muslim friends may celebrate and some may not, best to ask if they do before making any well wishes.
For the Hebrews in our midst, Chanukah begins on December 13th.

Again there is great variance in observances from those who think it is a very religiously significant event to those who use it as a way to share gifts and little else.

Chanukah continues to the 20th, so expect to hear the Chanukah song from Adam Sandler a great deal…

When I’ve been asked if I am Jewish, Christian or Catholic, I’ve often answered that I’m a Druid. Mostly as a joke, but also it is rather close to what I believe.

The ‘Universal Forces’ that run things seems to be a more loving and understandable way of approaching the world for me. Plus you get to have fun events like the upcoming Solstice on December 21, as the basis for a party that doesn’t alienate people.

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving for its inclusiveness (I know there’s controversy but in general the concept is to be inclusive) and that is why I like the idea of Solstice parties.

Of course there’s Christmas Eve and Christmas on December 24 and 25. If you know someone who celebrates it, say Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays if you prefer.

In the African-American community the annual Kwanzaa week of celebration is growing in popularity and acceptance.

The seven core principles that underlie the celebration are Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith.

This “new” celebration began in 1966, and was created by an Africana studies professor named Dr. Maulana Karenga as a response to the trauma of the Watts Riots of 1965.

Year end is a cornucopia of cultural events, gastronomic choices and a great opportunity to get to know our friends and neighbors better in ways that we don’t usually come across throughout the year.

I suggest that we all embrace the spirit of the season, which really is about gratitude and joy, no matter what flavor of spirituality you do or do not practice.

So HAPPY MERRY CHANUSOLCHRISTMAKWAN to all, and to all a good night!