I spent most of last year’s pre-Christmas season in a holiday blues funk, either sick or getting there, and this year I am determined not to let the same thing happen to me. I love this time of year, the anticipation of seeing family and friends, figuring out what to give people that will surprise or delight them, making the whole house smell delicious with gingerbread and chocolates. When I occasionally long to be rich, it’s because I don’t want to have to budget for giving.
Add to that this being the only religious holiday I’ve ever really loved deep down in my bones. Easter was always chilly and miserable and meant eating hard-boiled eggs, and I was too young to appreciate the rebirth metaphor. It’s Christmas that’s always spoken to me, the story, the songs, the lights, the customs. So I’ve spent every day since Thanksgiving listening to carols and planning how to decorate the house and making a list of everything I need to make yummy treats. I will be merry this year if it kills me.
I find this “war on Christmas” stuff profoundly depressing, is what I’m coming around to. I resent having to defend my love of these days, I resent one more thing I enjoy being made a battleground for morons to tell me that if I don’t say exactly the right phrase to the Macy’s clerk then I’m committing some crime against the Christ Child. The whole thing’s exhausting and it’s beside the point. We’re quibbling over words at a time when we really need to be figuring out what the hell to do with the mess of a world we’ve been kicking around in. We’re fighting over what well-heeled shoppers use as a greeting while the earth is caving in. It’s selfish, and small, and appalling, and I want no part of it, attack or defense. Leave God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Rudolph alone.
Somehow we’ve got this idea now that if everybody doesn’t believe exactly as we do and act the same, that that diminishes us somehow, that that is a threat to our own beliefs. What earthly difference does it make to me what somebody says to somebody else in a store, or what someone else hangs or doesn’t hang on their house? Why should I feel affronted if my neighbor does or does not put up one of those giant inflatable Santas this year? I would decorate my house if I lived alone on a farm with no one for miles and no one ever saw my front porch. Put up a festive holiday pentagram and sacrifice a goat for all it would change what I’d do. Likely, living in the city, I’ll never even notice, as animal sacrifice generally denotes Thursday, but do you see my point?
It’s such beautiful poetry, Christmas. I loathe seeing it made into a weapon to decided who is right and who is wrong, who is faithful and who is not. I loathe the insecurity and pettiness that kicking up a fuss over someone else’s decorations implies. Just light some candles, already, and sing Silent Night. That’s all the magic that matters.