christmas according to dolly freed

“Christmas doesn’t exist for us. December 25th is just another day here. ‘Tis the season to be greedy, ostentatious, treacly sentimental, frenzied, hysterical, morbidly drunk and suicidal, and we see no reason to pretend otherwise. So we ignore it in the hope that it will go away. Christmas has become like a horse with a broken leg. You can’t enjoy the horse and simply ignore its broken leg—the only decent thing to do is to put it out of its misery and be done with it. If you’re religious, you surely realize that the potlatch orgy of December 25th has little to do with Christ. Mammon or Bacchus, maybe, but not Christ. So do yourself a favor and refuse to play the game. If we all ignore it, it really will go away.”

Amen, Dolly, amen. But it is complicated, isn’t it? Navigating the tradition-steeped waters of friends’ and families’ holiday festivities as a person who doesn’t believe in God or care much for consumerism for the sake of consumerism is an activity warranting a good life jacket. The Beard and I give each other little surprise gifts all year long and, as they aren’t forced by the name of the seasonal game, they are all the more meaningful.

At the same time, I’m a bit of a sucker for traditions, and I love the sights, smells, and sounds of winter celebrations: a pine bough on the mantle, bread baking in the oven, snow outside, and friends on the way. There is nothing I don’t love about a big meal with friends, especially during the winter when kitchens become cozy bastions of warmth of all kinds, tucked safely away from the cold stormy world outside. As much as I would like it if Christmas disappeared, I wouldn’t like it at all if winter celebrations disappeared completely.

The way I see it, there is always a reason to celebrate, and we need to make sure we take the time to do so with reckless abandon as often as possible. Celebrate everything and celebrate often! This, in turn, is why I don’t hesitate to celebrate on December 24th and 25th with those who do celebrate. Why not? We all have the day off from work and all the shops are closed—two good reasons to celebrate if I ever heard ’em. We don’t go to church, but there is a big meal, and the evening usually ends with the “ugliest present” exchange game. No purchase necessary!

If you need another reason to celebrate, here’s a good one for you: today is the shortest day of the year. Not only does that mean it is the longest night (a time that I hear is especially good for a party) of the year, but that every day after it will have just a little bit more sunlight.

How do you deal with the Christmas question?

0 Comments on “christmas according to dolly freed

  1. I’ve said it before- the Christmas “season” used to be more or less a month of parties, and any gifts you gave were of food or wine or whatever for enjoying at said party. And who doesn’t like a pine bough on the mantle? The smell is divine (I daily stick my head in the wreath on my door and inhale). If we could get rid of the shopping (entirely, not just at Christmas), throw out the tradition of getting all insane about who does what when, and just stick with the visiting and drinking lots of mulled wine, I think we’d all be better off. Which is, of course, why I celebrate solstice. The pagans have got it right. 21 holidays a year! And feel free to celebrate in between just for the hell of it!

  2. Indeed!

    Probably going to be a few more posts on this topic in the coming days as the blogsphere is pummeling me with ridiculous Christmas posts and I feel the need to present an alternative view.

  3. The pagans really did have it right. We can credit them with our tradition of pine boughs, weeks of debauchery, and bonfires/crackling hearth fires. The gift giving supposedly came from St. Nicholas, who was a generous soul, and who can fault him for that? I love the idea of celebrating the return of the light–and that’s really what all these December holidays are about (Hannukah: 8 days of light; Christmas: the light of Christ; Solstice: duh; Saturnalia: the return of Sol Invictus, the unconquerable sun).

    By the way–did you see the lunar eclipse on the solstice? So perfect. I didn’t see it, but it drove home the idea that we really are currently emerging from the darkness. Ave, Sol Invicte!

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