I saw on the news tonight people who were upset with other people wishing each other a Merry Christmas. In a lot of ways, I think this is sad. Christmas for me isn’t about presents, or shopping, or Christmas carols. It’s about family. It’s the only dedicated time every year that I get to spend with my family, and I don’t always get to see any of them. Next year, I probably won’t get to see any of my family members for Christmas, and this year I don’t get to see all of my family, either. But I know that all of my family knows that I’m thinking of them and that I would be there if I could. I like giving people presents. I like spending the time shopping for people or making them something special. I like knowing that I can safely give people whatever I want and they can’t give me crap about it. It’s hard to get people to accept presents these days because most people feel like extra generosity is a bad thing. I think this is another of the many things that make me sad that we live in the world we do. People feel guilty about receiving gifts and presents from people, and I think the main reason for that is because we often don’t feel like we do enough for the people who matter the most to us in our lives. So I like that the holiday season gives me a reason to give people presents, or even just to send them cards to let them know that I’m thinking of them. The truth is that I think of everyone in my life all the time, every single day, and I know that my life allows me the luxury of those existential thoughts.
If I’m walking down the street, and someone wishes me a Blessed Solstice or a Happy Chanukah, I’m not going to get upset or angry with them for not following my holiday traditions – I’m going to wish them a Merry Christmas and a Blessed Solstice or Happy Chanukah or whatever seasons greetings they approached me with. It’s a time when we should all feel thankful for the people who matter most to us – where we should feel blessed by the simple things in life because not everyone has so much to be thankful for. I have a family who loves me and are extremely supportive of all the things I do with my life. I have a roof over my head and my very own room with built-in heating and air conditioning. And indoor plumbing. Really, anytime I think my life is terrible, I remember life without indoor plumbing. But we all have so many things to be thankful for! Do we really need to make this time of year about learning or teaching hatred? Our religious beliefs may not all be the same, but it should be the spirit that matters – the spirit that tells us all to be thankful for what we have, especially if what we have is the ability to spend time with our families and those who matter the most to us.
If someone offers you a seasons greetings that’s unfamiliar to you, but meets the same intent of thankfulness and joy, greet them as a friend. And if people don’t seem to understand all the good they already have in their lives, send them holiday wishes that someday, they’ll understand what really matters. For me, that’s my family and friends. For others, it could be their pets, or even shelves of old, worn out books. There’s been a lot of those old, worn out books that are very much like dear friends to me. But the point is to spend the time given to us with those who matter the most, whoever they might be, and to be thankful for the gifts of family and friends, especially during the winter months, which are often the hardest for so many.
So I wish you all a Blessed Solstice, a Happy Chanukah, a Merry Christmas, or just plain Happy Holidays, depending on your preference.