Doh! As Homer Simpson might say. In a brief article this morning in the newspaper, someone noted that "holiday" is, in fact, a short cut to "holy day", meaning that the whole "war on Christmas" kerfuffle is an uneducated, irrelevant rant, since to wish someone Happy Holidays is to honor the whole spectrum of religious observance. Of course. It's quite churlish of folks like Bill O'whoever and other oh-so-benighted neo-Christian talking heads to want to narrow the focus of this time of year down to their particular holy day, scorning the legitimacy of others' holy days. Ah well, I suspect we'll fight this battle for some time to come. It just seems so stupid.
Last night's Christmas Eve service was wonderful! Because we were dedicating 8 children, every family brought all the nearby grandparents and assorted friends, most of the regulars showed up as well, and the place was packed. We had to set up several rows of the uncomfortable metal folding chairs but no one complained, everyone sang with gusto, substituting the familiar words of the carols for the degenderized words of the SLT hymnal. We sang Silent Night as our two youth lit the candles for each row and the light grew brighter. There were lots of visitors who may come back, several out-of-towners here on a winter break, and thrilled parents at the dedication ceremony. And the bereaved wife of our beloved congregant was there, teary but present.
Our ceremony is that I tell what dedication means to a congregation and the symbolism of the rose and the water; our DRE explains what is in the tiny bags that she will give each child (a lump of sugar, bitter herbs, a Susan B. Anthony dollar, and seeds) and the significance of each item (you can probably figure it out yourself). Then each family steps forward, I ask "what is this young person's name?", the parents answer (or the kid, if s/he is willing), and I dip the rose bud in the water, which comes from our Water Communion ceremony, and say "I touch your head that you might learn to think clearly; I touch your lips that you might learn to speak truth; I touch your heart that you might learn to love deeply; I touch your hands that you might learn to serve others; and I touch your parents (or mom, or dad, or whoever) that they may always remind you how deeply you are loved. Welcome to the UU Congregation of Whidbey Island."
It never fails to evoke great joy in the sanctuary to see the children so welcomed. One little boy kissed the rose as it touched his lips; a soft sigh ran through the room. One tiny girl piped up with her whole full name before her folks even opened their mouths-----soft laughter. It was a wonderful evening.