“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?