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The Spirit of Christmas   —   Holidays

What makes us love Christmas the way that we do? Is it the giving and/or receiving of presents? Or is it the family gatherings and the warm home-cooked meals? Or maybe it's the smell of pine in the living room with the sparkling rainbow colors of the Christmas tree lights turning everything a rich amber glow?

What happens when you can’t go home for Christmas? Not that you’re unable to due to time off work or money problems, but that your home as you knew it is no longer there. It just doesn’t exist. Do you struggle and strive to make the holidays resemble something familiar and inviting? Do you create new traditions and throw fabulous parties of your own design?

What happens if Christmas was never about religion? Had nothing to do with Christ or church or mass or birth. What then? How do you weed out the religious overtones of the holiday to make it fit an ideal medium for you? And if you decide to do that, then what is the point of the holiday at all given you just discarded it’s origin and it’s reason for celebration?

I’m beginning to wonder why I am so adamant about celebrating Christmas every year. The thought of going without Christmas makes the hairs on my neck stand. Christmas for me isn’t about going home, for I have no ‘home’ to go to, I now have ‘homes’. It’s not about seeing my family because my family is now scattered to the winds and I would never be able to see them all at once. And it’s certainly not about religion. It’s not about tradition anymore because the kind of Christmas I’m familiar with contains everything that is unattainable. I have tried to create my own traditions over the last couple of years but it seems like the holiday season is now a traveling one and we’re always headed off to somewhere that we don’t really want to be in an aim to please people we rarely ever see. I suppose it could be about giving gifts, but why? Every year I seem to spend money I don’t have and scrape the bottom of the barrel to give people I either hardly know or rarely see presents out of what seems like obligation. The only person I want to give gifts to and spend the holiday with is the only person I know who really despises Christmas. So to what lengths should I go to, to fulfill my Christmas need and desire? Part of me feels like Christmas for me is some desperate attempt to reconnect with a past that I long for but that no longer exists. I certainly don’t enjoy the marketing and media standpoint of driving the ‘spirit’ of Christmas into our skulls and hearts like a steel stake. Bashing us over the heads with inflated price tags, loud jolly music, crowded aisles, bad customer service and gaudy decorating. Not to mention the 'heartfelt' made-for-TV movies.

Every year I grow a little bit more confused on what this holiday means to me. I continue to look forward to and grow excited about all of its elements and yet I dread the memory of all that is lacking and lost. The spirit of Christmas eludes me.

Posted 12.16.2003

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