Ah, Christmas. What a complicated, wonderful mess you are.
Christmas is a bit of a ridiculous holiday. Let’s be honest. To some, it’s a chance to celebrate the birth of their savior (during a month that most have said is not His true birth month); it’s just another day to those of most faiths. And we let ourselves do some silly things in celebration of this holiday. We drink liquid garbage (or as some call it, eggnog). One morning a year, we sit around a dead tree and eat candy out of socks. We willingly sing to strangers, oftentimes cracking out songs with really weird lyrics (a child shivers in the cold. No, forget the blankets—let’s bring him some precious metals, though I have no idea who he is. Also, which one of the guards let a shepherd boy into the King’s palace?)
But with all of that, we still love the holiday season. I’m right there with you guys. And we’ve created approximately seven spajillion ways to celebrate the month of December. And guess what: nobody has the right way to do it.
Before we even talk Christmas, we have to have word about the Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Happy Holidays question, because even in 2014 people don’t get it yet. Basically, the rule of thumb is as follows: Don’t be a dick. That’s it. If someone has a different belief system than you, this is not the time to go crapping all over them. If you want to say Merry Christmas, say it—but don’t make a big deal about it. Would Christ write a Facebook post about how people in this country are killing humanity by refusing to say Merry Christmas? No, he would not. Same goes for you, Jewish friends. We still love you; don’t get all hot and bothered if we accidently slip.
And the rule applies to the Santa vs Jesus crew, too. Don’t demand that every room of every house you visit be graced by a gold-plated nativity; likewise, don’t start throwing shepherds and wise men and angels around just because you don’t consider them sacred.
Once you’ve decided that you’re not going to be a bigoted cottonheaded ninnymuggins, it’s time to have some fun, you-style. It’s your holiday; celebrate it how you personally choose. This is supposed to be a period of joy. If you don’t want to wear and ugly Christmas sweater or go caroling or eat gingerbread men, just don’t. But if you want to wear jingle bell earrings and blast Christmas music and eat three pounds of gumdrops, that’s certainly an option.
Wanna throw an extravagant party? Do it. Spike the eggnog? Even better. Sit in the comfort of your own home and eat to your heart’s content? Sounds like fun. Volunteering at the local shelter? Bless you. Opening up a black market for Princess Unicorn? Er… hey, gotta ride that trend.
Not everyone that has the Christmas spirit is outwardly bubbly about it. Have some patience with these people. I can assure you that they are likely just very private about this time of year. Oftentimes it’s out of grief—this can be a very hard time of year for a lot of suffering people. But you know what? Some people are so intensely dedicated to the meaning of this holiday, secularly or religiously speaking, that they can’t show it. What they feel is beyond description, beyond display, beyond words. (You have no idea how frustrating that is for someone that writes to communicate).
Unfortunately, if you want to be around other people, you might have to out some of your preferences aside. For the sake of camaraderie and peaceful family gatherings, sometimes you just gotta suck it up and eat the fruitcake, spin the dreidel, and watch that godforsaken Christmas cartoon. And sometimes you will have to break tradition; it can’t be your way all the time.
The world will not end if you don’t watch every single Christmas movie or make seventeen kinds of Christmas cookies. The world continues to spin and real-world things get in the way. Don’t worry about it.
Take some time to make this holiday season happy by your definition. We put so much effort into chasing happiness that we forget that it is a concept that’s hard to define and even harder to achieve on a large scale.
In short, don’t be an overbearing d-bag, but don’t be afraid to celebrate the holidays as you see fit, no matter if you celebrate in public or private, loudly or silently, in church or by the punchbowl or on your couch.
Merry Christmas, you guys.