For many years, Christmas meant pretty much nothing but an annoying time of year to me. This was from my mid-20s till about my late 30s. Then, after many years of not even acknowledging the holiday, I spent what turned out to be the last Christmas with my mom. For a little more insight on this, read The Little Christmas Tree, if you haven’t already.
As I got older, I began to miss that innocent joy that this season brought to me when I was a child. I can still close my eyes and relive the thrills of sitting under the Christmas tree and tearing wrapping paper off the gifts that my mom, dad, brother, and Santa had brought me. I can still smell the wonderful foods my mom was cooking up in the kitchen. I can still remember the feel of a warm sweater and pants on a cold Christmas morning out in the backyard. I can even smell the wood burning from the fireplaces around the neighborhood.
I did not grow up in a religious family. I did attend Catholic schools for 11 years, but that did more to turn me away from religion than inculcate me into that syndicate. That’s neither here nor there, though. My point is that this season, which was originally based on a pagan rite of the winter solstice, is not about religion or religious beliefs. It’s not about unfettered capitalistic greed. It’s not even about Christmas Day football games.
What it means to me is a time when human beings should put aside their hatreds, their prejudices, their general thoughts of malice and love one another for just a short span. Stop butchering each other for a while and help your neighbor rather than beat him senseless in the street. Feed those who can’t feed themselves. Provide a warm blanket for someone who doesn’t have one. Draw your family and friends closer to your breast and realize that they won’t always be there.
My feelings on this season are that it should be as I see (wish) it 365 days a year. That’s not going to happen, though. I’m a pragmatist. I know these things are just a dream. Yet… yet, maybe just for a short time?
However you celebrate this season, whatever your beliefs (or lack of them), alone or with a big family; try to remember that it’s about people, not things.