Christmas and the holidays

I don’t believe that it’s Jesus’ birthday, but I do like Christmas nonetheless.

I don’t believe that a baby was born to a virgin travelling to Bethlehem. Moreover, even if Matthew (or more likely a later compiler and translator of Matthew’s work) had not added this bit to tie Jesus to messianic traditions but instead had been reported a true (or true-ish) story, it would still have taken place in the spring, not at winter solstice.

I don’t believe that fir trees, chubby white-bearded men in red costumes, flying reindeer, or hard-working elves, have anything to do with Jesus either.

But I like that just about every culture and tradition has created some way of celebrating hope in darkness, the time when nights are at their longest but start getting shorter again (which in the southern hemisphere happens in June, not December, of course). I like that we can celebrate during the same period Christmas, Solstice, Hanukkah, Rohatsu, Bodhi Day, a slew of other “Christian” holidays that used to be more important until the 20th century (St. Sylvester, Epiphany, etc.), and nowadays Kwanzaa (and Muslim holidays when they roll around to a convenient date along the lunar cycle).

I wish we took more advantage of this to celebrate together rather than fight, but we’re not so good at sharing, least of all sharing peace and good will. But every year those of us paying attention can get a glimmer of it, “if only in our dreams” as Bing Crosby would croon.

I like giving presents, especially those I can make myself. I like putting thought into something I hope will make a loved one happy. I like the symbolic light in the middle of the night. I like people genuinely bringing good cheer and children genuinely marvelling at the season. Yes, I hate the fakery, the commercialism, the too-worldly and mercenary children, the feverish hope that people will spend “enough”, but I’m not willing to let these dictate how I should feel about the holidays.

Happy holidays! I’ll be thinking of you.

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