Happy All the Holidays to All of You
When I think of Christmas, I think of family.
It’s not about how much we spend on presents, but about the smiles we bring to people we love. It’s a time that allows us to put aside the petty crap that bothers us about our kids, partners, parents and friends and let’s us appreciate them for exactly who they are. It’s a moment to be thankful that you get to be bothered at all.
Despite all the aggravating pre-Christmas retail creep and stress that comes with the holidays, it’s an infectious time of year. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when everything twinkles.
There is no war on Christmas. There just isn’t.
Quite the opposite. It’s one holiday that most people, at least in this country, want in on. Christian or not, the day is enticing and really should be open to anyone who wants to celebrate all it’s supposed to be. But it doesn’t negate other holidays and religions. There is nothing wrong with saying “happy holidays,” because in fact, there are several observed in this season. And they’re all great.
I was fortunate enough to be raised half-and-half. One side of the family is Jewish, the other, Irish Catholic — neither practices in any seriously religious sense. It’s been years since I’ve stepped foot in a temple, but I still light the menorah and scratch potatoes, and think back on beautiful years I celebrated Chanukah when my grandmother was still alive. I may not sit around eating bitters and over-sipping the Manischewitz to drown out my grandfather’s reading voice, but I cherish the memories of when I did.
Christmas is the same way — we make new stories every year as the family grows, and tell old stories about the best parts of those who aren’t with us any more. That’s what holidays are at their core, for many of us, any way.
And just as one holiday doesn’t cancel out another, keeping it simple doesn’t cancel out the significance for the deeply religious. Nobody is protesting outside your church service — you’re free to believe and observe, or not, however you see fit. That’s the beauty of this country when it works right — the freedom to make choices about things like faith without the threat of oppression.
I don’t get the “war on Christmas” narrative. There’s no lack of Santa Claus and Christmas trees around — there’s far less public tipping of the hat to Kwanzaa and the Festival of Lights, in case you hadn’t noticed. But since Christmas dominates all facets of our lives, why is that we aren’t all welcome to celebrate in their own way?
You don’t have to believe in Christ to appreciate your family, make things pretty and put ridiculous effort into feeding the ones you love. You can be a committed Christian and still respect other beliefs, and other holidays. It’s time to do away with the pissing contest we’ve wrapped this season in and lift up the good parts.
So, whatever you’re out there celebrating, I hope it’s beautiful and full of smiles. I hope you make memories you can tell stories about years later. I hope at the end of it all, you’re a little fatter and a lot happier.