The Christmas tree with a Star of Bethlehem at the top is a symbol of Christmas that is recognized internationally. The fragrant evergreen tree which does not fade and keep its green leaves in wintertime is a symbol of hope and continuity. The song "O Tannenbaum" reminds us how this tree is central to Christmas celebrations despite the lack of ecclesiastic support for elaborately decorated trees as an unfortunate expression of commercialism and a pagan heritage. As such, Christmas trees are also a reminder for the importance of ecological balance and respect for Nature. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree_cultivation
The Twelve Days of Christmas begin on the 25th of December and continues through the 6th of January, when traditionally, the Christmas tree decorations are put away until next year. The 6th of January or Epiphany is said to be the day when the Kings of the Orient followed a guiding star and arrived at the manger in Jerusalem with three gifts fit for a deity: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
What is the shape of a guiding star in our lives? Can it be a six-pointed star or an eight-pointed star?
Who were these biblical Magi donning turbans http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turban ?
They are traditionally said to be sages from Persia, Arabia and India, or scholars versed in astrology who, guided by a comet, traveled on camels to pay homage to a child predicted by the alignment of the stars to be a great king. The subliminal message of this narrative bestows legitimacy to the holy star-child as having confirmed allies in various Mid-Eastern religious traditions: Zorostrianism, Hinduism, and another ancient religion, whatever this might be.
There are uplifting stories such as the one about the cease fire that occurred during World War I on Christmas Day. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_truce
Everything about Christmas seems to indicate that it is a time for generosity of the heart and renewed hope in the goodness and unity of the human race.
For me, it is also about the sanctity of a newborn child, male and female, full of human potentiality, and the miracle of birth that ensures the survival of the human race.
I am reminded when seeing a manger scene that it takes good dedicated parents to bring up a child but that they cannot do it alone. It also takes a community that believes in the potential of a given child. In that sense, Christmas reminds me of the importance of the family as a basic social unit and how great things can come of grassroots movements fueled by the desire for human dignity.
At a more intimate level, Christmas, for me, is a space-time that is filled with a spirit of joy that is captured in photographs by my mom (who owned a Mamiyaflex and was the official photographer in our family) such as the one in which I am still a toddler in the arms of a loving teenage half-sister in front of a Christmas tree with our dad next to us. It is a day I remember the taste of homemade caramels the way another half-sister used to make them, a day when we went out in our best Sunday clothes, feeling like ambassadors of good will, a day when we hoped for cold weather and snow and, then, remembered the story of the Little Match Girl. It is also a day when I remember the beautiful scarves I keep in a drawer and the people who gave them to me as presents but are currently not in my life, as I select a scarf to go with what I'm wearing.