as for me, Christmas means time with family, giving gifts to the people i love, the coming end of another year, and the illusion- if only for a short time- of shared hope, of a little joy for the sake of it, of people walking around with less hostility toward their fellow man. the peace on earth / good will toward men thing is paramount in my book. i can work up a pretty good deal of that good will in myself, and i like that change when it happens.
i'm one of the very least religious people i know, and the fact that Christmas was originally (and is arguably primarily) a Christian holiday doesn't bother me a bit. it's certainly moved beyond it's original intent. i wish people a merry Christmas and it means what i intend it to, and they can take that however they want....and vice versa. seems stupid to me to not say "merry Christmas" to the other 90% of people who celebrate it to avoid offending the rest. i'm an atheist, but i don't take offense when people ask God to bless me when i sneeze, and that happens year 'round! they've done me no harm; rather, they've wished me well, and i take it like they meant it and that's that.
some people are just miserable unless they're offended by something, and i think we should all go out of our way to oblige as many of them as possible as often as possible. crabby people deserve their unhappiness!
i've worked retail during enough holiday seasons to get a good idea of exactly what commercialism has done to Christmas, and felt the stress associated with trying to finish doing everything i want to do, and watched countless people behave terribly, dealing with their own stress. i've experienced what it's like to run round-the-clock crews decorating businesses and city streets and parks all over the area for weeks on end (for sizable fees), hung Christmas lights 60 feet up in trees in freezing and/or wet weather in a lift and rain gear from 10pm to 6am for weeks on end, fought many times over who Loren's going to spend the time with, and endured a whole litany of other things conspiring to rob me of my Christmas spirit....but it never totally works.
sometimes i don't feel very Christmasy until the last minute, but something always gives. some great piece of Christmas music that hasn't been beating up my ears comes around, or one particularly clever television commercial strikes just the right note, or someone's card will be perfect. or i'll catch a bit of a Christmas special that i loved when i was a kid. sometimes it's my first trip to the mall. maybe even just watching someone (especially a kid) having their "wow, it's really Christmas" moment. sometimes it's just someone genuinely wishing me a merry Christmas....sincere well-wishes are gifts in and of themselves. sometimes it's the week before Christmas when we get a little early snow.
something always gives. i'm happy i'm not yet so completely jaded and cynical that it still does- because i like what Christmas does to me. for me thats the whole point, and what makes it worthwhile.
but whatever Christmas (or other holiday one celebrates) means to each, i hope they get in spades.
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