Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Un-Christmas!

This one's for everyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas. I know there are a lot of you. Some of you celebrate something else instead, while some just don't do the whole winter-holiday thing.

Some of my Christian friends would want me to try to pull you in. They'd want me to talk about Christmas this week, and nothing but Christmas. They're among those shoppers you hear in supermarkets, replying to a cheerful greeting of "Happy Holidays" with an indignant "Merry CHRISTMAS!" I love them, but when I hear that, I cringe, for two reasons:

First, no matter how strongly someone believes in Christmas, yelling at a store clerk like a petulant child probably, I'm guessing, isn't going to help the cause.

Second, there's nothing in the Christian Bible designating late December as Christmas. In fact, it puts the date of Jesus' birth much earlier in the year and never mentions anything about observing a holiday for it. Christmas is pure tradition, stemming from a European cultural background in solstice holidays and the desire of many Christians to celebrate one of the pivotal events of our history. There's no more basis in the Bible or in logic for insisting on "Merry Christmas!" in late December than there would be for yelling "Jolly Dove Day!" every August, in celebration of the day Noah released a dove from the ark in search of dry land after the great flood.

But in a broader sense, we all celebrate together. If you live in the northern quarter of the planet, this week is when the days finally stop getting shorter and start getting longer again. It's a physical reminder of something we can make real in our own lives and relationships: the theme of renewal, of new light and the hope of new life.

With that in mind, no matter where you live and what you celebrate or don't celebrate, I'd like to wish you a joyful and life-renewing solstice season.

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