Dec. 23rd, 2009

rockinlibrarian: (christmas)
Christmas, as you might know, is more than just my favorite holiday, it is quite possibly my Favorite Thing Ever. It's even listed in my Interests (here in LiveJournal. I don't know if it's in my Facebook page, I haven't looked there in awhile). I dream about it all year long. I most commonly doodle one of two things (all year long): daisies or Christmas trees. One of the most moving scenes from any book I have ever read, to me personally, is the scene in Lois Lowry's The Giver when Jonah asks the Giver what his favorite memory is, of all the memories he is holding for society, and that memory turns out to be of a peaceful, family-filled, love-filled Christmas night, the lights the warmth the everything. "THAT'S MINE TOO!" I said. "That is what I most hold in my heart!"

So I'm always saddened how much Bad Feeling the holidays can stir up among people.

There are those who get so wrapped up in Making Sure the Ideal Holiday Happens that they completely forget to enjoy themselves, no longer giving for the Joy of giving but giving because they feel it's Expected, no longer sharing in companionship but putting on a show. You always hear about the stress of the holidays. But why does it have to be stressful? Why bother, if you don't love it? Someone who does love it will pick up your slack. Everyone will be happy.

Then there's political correctness, religious arguments, spirituality vs. commercialism. If the people actually celebrating various things weren't stressed enough, there's the endless arguments over whose holiday is whose, and what's the proper thing to say about holidays, and what's the proper way to celebrate things, and so on and so forth. How much ANGER this brings out in people! Or if not outright anger, at least bitterness and rejection. Here's the bit I wrote about the Santa Claus dilemma last year, but this stuff goes deeper and broader and more annoying than that:

People can get kind of goofy about the Right thing to say to people: there are those who get totally offended anytime anyone says "Happy Holidays" because they ought to just say "Merry Christmas" and who cares for political correctness, and then there are those who go to such lengths to be "inclusive" that they say stuff like "for my own personal Christnnukahwanza celebration...." This is how I see it: "the Holidays" covers the whole month of December, or actually more like Thanksgiving to Russian Christmas. But it's dumb to refer to actual individual dates as "the holiday." If it's the 25th, it's "Christmas." "Hanukkah" was the other week. "Kwanzaa"'s next week. New Year's is, well, you can figure that one out. Don't forget St. Nicholas's day on the 6 and Immaculate Conception on the 8 and St. Lucia's day on the 13th and of course Jane Austen's birthday on the 16th (what do you mean that's not a real holiday? You don't celebrate the right holidays)... and so on and so on.... Now, technically there's a holiday every day the rest of the year too, but they aren't as AWESOME as your December ones, so that's why December is The Holidays. But for goodness sake, if you celebrate Christmas, you're allowed to say "I had a Christmas party..." in a blog post or whatever if you had a Christmas party. Using "holiday" in that sentence would be dumb, and yet people do. But on the other hand, there's nothing wrong with referring to the season as the Holiday Season rather than the Christmas season, because it IS a season of MANY holidays, and you celebrate whichever you feel like celebrating, and you don't talk smack on anybody else's holidays or lack thereof.

The other touchy subject is "THE TRUE MEANING" etc. But I'm not so sure anyone agrees on what the True Meaning is. There's a whole "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" movement (what's funny is Sam has this thing for exclaiming "It's a happy birthday!" at various Christmas decorations, and I'm not sure where he got that. Candles and presents I can see, but the colored lights?), but honestly, that statement almost offends me from a religious standpoint. Saying December 25th is Jesus's birthday is not only inaccurate, it's simplistic. It turns the Huge Concept of the Coming of Christ (not only as a baby in the Middle East two thousand years ago, but also at the End of Time, AND that personal Coming of Christ into the hearts and lives of each individual person) into a simple anniversary party (and on most likely the wrong date). Christmas is MORE than a birthday party, even a birthday party for the Big Guy.

On the flip side are those who fight against Christmas with comments like "the Christians just STOLE the holiday from the pagan's Yule." Just stole? Also a simplification, also a misinterpretation. What were people celebrating at Yule but the bringing of Light into the Darkest time of the year? What is the Coming of Christ but the bringing of Light into the Darkness of the human condition? The Christians could not have picked a more appropriate holiday to assimilate into the new religion. They did not steal the holiday, they added a new dimension to it.

I'm okay with a secular Christmas. Not a COMMERCIALIZED Christmas, but a Christmas for more than just the Christians. We are celebrating the coming of Light, the coming of Hope, the coming of Redemption, the banishing of Darkness. That's something for everyone to celebrate and believe in whether or not they pin their hopes for redemption on the guy whom the holiday is named after. Easter, to me, is a religious holiday, even though that's the one with the pagan name. Easter, to me, is about the Resurrection of Christ. I don't want that secularized. But Christmas is BIGGER than a religious holiday. It's a holiday that speaks to something primal in human nature: the need for Light, for Warmth, for Hope.

That's why I always post the lyrics to this song here, every year. It's my Christmas card to all of you who happen to come here:

The Christmas Wish

I don’t know if you believe in Christmas,
or if you have presents underneath the Christmas tree.
But if you believe in love, that will be more than enough
for you to come and celebrate with me.

For I have held the precious gift that love brings
even though I’ve never saw a Christmas star.
But I know there is a light, I have felt it burn inside,
and I can see it shining from afar.

Christmas is a time to come together, a time to put all differences aside.
And I reach out my hand to the family of man
to share the joy I feel at Christmas time.

For the truth that binds us all together, I would like to say a simple prayer.
That at this special time, you will have true peace of mind
and love to last throughout the coming year.

And if you believe in love, that will be more than enough
for peace to last throughout the coming year.
And peace on earth will last throughout the year.

by Danny Wheetman, as sung by Kermit the Frog on the album A Christmas Together

Merry Christmas every one, no matter how you celebrate!


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