Happy Holidays!

No, the heading is not a salvo in the imaginary war on Christmas. It’s an acknowledgment that people celebrate a variety of holidays at this time of year, and that some people don’t celebrate Christmas. I am one of those people. Well, sort of.

I grew up celebrating Christmas, and for a few years it even had heartfelt religious significance for me. I left religion Festivus Polebehind in my late teens, but still I celebrated Christmas with trees and gifts and such.

Over time, the holiday season became increasingly stressful as I worried about buying gifts for everyone in my expanding circle of friends and relatives. Eventually, the stress outweighed any pleasure I took from selecting and giving gifts, decorating a tree, and hearing or singing carols. My retreat from Christmas began a decade or two ago, after I had worked myself into a frenzy seeking the perfect gifts for one relative’s third husband’s children by his first wife, children I barely knew.

The commercialism of Christmas is repellent to me, and whatever generosity I can muster I prefer to spread throughout the year. Without a focus on either religion or shopping, there doesn’t seem to be much to celebrate. And yet ….

To some of the people close to me, Christmas is a joyful time, and for a few it is also sacred. I am happy for them to spread their joy. If people I love invite this heathen to witness their religious rites, whatever their religion, I am touched to be welcomed to their inner circles. And my singing group can count on me to cry shamelessly when we end our December concerts by singing Silent Night along with the audience.

So I wish you a merry Christmas, if that’s what you celebrate, and I hope you had a happy Hannukah if that’s your holiday. Or Kwanzaa, if you’d rather. Or Festivus. And I wish everyone a healthy, prosperous new year.



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