Just a short post this Christmas Eve to wish all our many readers (many => more than three) a very Merry Christmas!
And now for the usual caustic commentary you all know and love,
Christmas is not my favorite holiday. There are two holidays I enjoy more. My favorite is Thanksgiving, closely followed by New Years.
Even though I’ve learned that Thanksgiving is not the unique American holiday I once thought, I still enjoy it for the symbol of blessings. Despite the best efforts of marketers, it’s still a non-commercial holiday. Thanksgiving remains, for me, the essence of what a celebration should be; a group of family and friends coming together to have a big meal, enjoy each other’s company, and spend just a minute or so thinking about their blessings of the past year.
New Year’s Eve has is my second favorite holiday because it’s come to symbolize another year of resilience.
These past years have been personally horrible. Making the adjustment from military to civilian life starting in 1996 was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Shifting from one dead-end job to another, earning less than what I earned in the military became mind-numbing. My divorce in 2001 knocked me down hard. Getting re-married was a blessing, but then I fought the INS for nearly two years to get Winnie here, feeling very much alone in that fight most of the time.
Topping off my run of horrible years was living through hurricane Katrina mere weeks after Winnie arrived, followed by the year-long storm recovery. Followed by moving away and now living in a strange place, trying to make new roots after ripping away my past.
So New Year’s Eve has come to be my celebration of resilience and hope; my personal celebration that no matter how much of a beating I had taken during the year, I was still standing and still able to fight another year. Along with resilience has been my hope that the coming year just had to get better.
Christmas has always been a holiday for families with young children. As I get older, I feel the lack of children more acutely. Yes, Winnie and I are working on correcting that lack, but it hasn’t happened, yet…
Meanwhile, I don’t feel much of that “Christmas spirit” these past years. The Christmas shopping crowds irritate me, and anyone who claims people are just a little nicer during the Christmas season have never been to a department store that time of year.
Christmas cards are difficult, because I really want to tell everyone I send a card to everything what’s happened to me the past year, and know everything that’s happened to them. But the best I can do is write a brief newsletter, hitting the high points, and hope they’ll do the same. Which usually doesn’t happen.
Gift-giving is also very difficult for me. Our family lives scattered all across the country and we see each other at best once every several years. We are almost never able to get together during Christmas holidays. So at Christmas time I don’t know what the other family members are into; what music or books they enjoy, what little something they’d really, really like but would never buy for themselves, nothing.
So I end up mailing out store gift cards each year, which in my hierarchy of gift giving is like a cold pickle, compared to the warm fuzzy of watching someone open a brightly-wrapped package and seeing the flash of happiness in their eyes.
And the blatant hypocrisy of some people is almost breath-taking. I truely don’t like people who for 11 months out of each year could care less about helping others. Then suddenly, right after Thanksgiving, they go into a frenzy of selfless charity, screaming to anyone who will listen that only “you” can help a poor child have a nice Christmas.
They amass huge amounts of money in an orgasm of selfless good deeds and fund raising, and publicly anoint some Terribly Poor Family with a wonderful bounty of toys and food just in time for the Most Magical Event Of The Year.
Then these wonderfully selfless people, flush with their 30 days of good deed doing, spent the next eleven months ignoring those Terribly Poor People. While bragging to anyone who’ll listen just how much Good Deed Doing they Performed during the past Christmas.
Some would call it the “Magic of Christmas.” I call it making points with Santa Claus. But that’s just me.
But for all the annoyances, all the things that I don’t like about Christmas, there is one part about it I do like. It gives a group of family and friends another excuse for coming together to have a big meal, enjoy each other’s company, and spend just a minute or so thinking about their blessings of the past year.
And so for that, I wish everyone reading this, my friends and family, all the people I know and care about (and even a few I don’t care about), I wish a Christmas that brings peace, happiness, good times with their family and friends, and the blessings of gaining their hearts desire. Along with a bit of mulled cider, a bit of fruitcake, and a chance under the mistletoe with their true love.