I am not at all a religious person, but I love Christmas. Or Yule, or the Solstice—whatever you want to call it. I’m not the least bit picky as long as I can bake cookies, decorate a tree, give presents, and sing. Which is the tricky part, as no one really wants to hear me sing. Even the dog covers her ears.
Almost every society we know about has some sort of celebration around the winter solstice. It may have started as a prayer to make the sun come back, or to commemorate the survival of the tribe during a particularly vicious winter, but I do believe there is a deep, primitive need in any society, for festivals, and like it or not, if you’re a twenty-first-century American, Christmas is what it’s called by the masses.
Many of the traditions I love are pre-Christian in origin, and a few others are fairly recent. I don’t care. Using evergreen plants to symbolize that life endures through the winter makes sense to me. As I type this, we have over a foot of snow in my yard and more coming down. Believe me, I get winter. And Dr. Seuss’s Grinch is a modern tradition I love just as much as my great-aunt’s cookie recipe. I enjoy Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and my husband’s punk rock Christmas music. “Christmas Night of the Living Dead,” is particularly amusing if your mind is sick and twisted like mine. (“Her face is green and the snow is red…”)
So what does my family do for the holidays? I’d love nothing more than to have a huge open house with dozens of guests. But alas, everyone I know has other plans. So our holiday gatherings are small. I bake lots of cookies, and we all exchange gifts. On Christmas morning, btw, none of that Christmas Eve business—that’s cheating. You can open whatever’s in your stocking whenever you get up, but no fair waking anyone else up before nine or ten. When the kids were little they got up early, but now, I’m usually the first one up. I never sleep on Christmas Eve.
So I usually have some muffins or something to munch on with fruit while the stockings are opened. My dh usually cooks something wonderful for brunch a little later. Once everybody is up and has emptied their little cache of goodies (nothing over ten bucks goes in the stocking), then we take turns opening presents one at a time. Late morning my father (and sometimes my brother, who lives with him) will come over, and by early afternoon, my in-laws arrive, weather permitting. Somewhere after the presents are opened, we take turns showering, and brunch is served. Then later in the afternoon, we’ll all head over to my brother and dad’s house for dinner. Both Dad and Mark have girlfriends this year, but I don’t know if they’ll be there or not, so dinner will be for anywhere from eight to ten people. Like I said, small. There will be a call to my nephews in
By evening it will all be done, and we’llbe back home, puttering with new toys and gadgets, or maybe watching a movie. It’s all pretty low-key, but it’s mine.
Whatever or however you celebrate, I wish you and yours the very best. Have a safe and happy holiday season.