The Spirit of the Season
I’m a sucker for Christmas. I get little-kid-style excited; I bake and I wrap; I sing Christmas carols at every opportunity; I watch sentimental movies on the Hallmark Channel (and not just because they’re a client); I love finding the perfect tree and decorating it with a collection of ornaments begun by my mom before I was born and added to almost every year since. I cook a Christmas dinner with some variety of big bird, and endeavor to make the menu as dickensian as possible. I invite my kids and my siblings and their children to our house for a big informal after-Christmas party where we talk and laugh and make fun of each other and eat good stuff. (Patrick just rolls his eyes at all of this…but I think he actually kind of likes it.)
Now, the weird thing is – I’m not a Christian. My mother was an atheist posing as an agnostic, and my dad was an agnostic nominally self-identified as a Presbyterian. They took us to Unitarian Sunday School, in the service of letting us come to our own conclusions, but I was raised – truly – to think of all religions as mythology.
But both my parents loved the Christmas season. I believe they saw it as a time to celebrate love and family, and the rituals involved — from Santa Claus in his sleigh to Jesus in the manger; from the miracle of gifts appearing magically under the tree to the miracle of a holy child appearing magically in Bethlehem — were all good grist for that mill of joy and celebration.
And their version of Christmas completely resonates with the adult I’ve become. I see the Christmas season as an opportunity to be much more overt about the things I feel all year round: gratitude for life and those I love; an appreciation for the beauty and magic that surround me. Christmas gives me a bigger-than-usual chance to sing for joy, to laugh with happiness, to do things for my loved ones, to hope and work for a better world.
Christmas is, for me, the concentrated elixir of all that I hold dear.
So, dear readers – may you have a most wonderful, magical and joyful holiday season with those you love, both near and far.