After Thanksgiving I know that Christmas is my favorite holiday. This may sound odd for me since I am not a believer, I think Jesus existed and was a really honorable, decent man who wanted to save the world but as for the leap to the whole son of God relationship is hard. Please do not try and convert me ....trust me enough years of parochial education did not do it you will not be successful either. However, this does not stop me from going totally bonkers for the season. This also does not preclude me from thinking the message of Jesus is a good one...call him a prophet if you will, a man if you must, but for me it goes back to someone who by all accounts did not nothing more beyond wanting to change the world for the better. Since I had children for some reason I also seem to get weepy at the thought of poor Mary and Joseph and being turned away...after all it is pretty relevant that she was a woman who with child, did not matter whose child mind you, was being shunned for being pregnant. The whole reproduction debate will be part of much a later blog. I also cannot imagine how scared these 2 young people were yet full of love for the child she was carrying.
So it is at this time that I start to get a stupid smile walking through the city as the decorations go up. You know it's coming since I make no excuses for being a New Yorkphile.....but there is something especially magical about New York during this time. The Fifth Ave lights, the snowflake, the tree..The tree, the lights at Saks, the windows on Fifth, FAO Schwarts, the red ribbon on Tiffany blue, the competitive light set ups of the boroughs...some of those people must be the reason for an increase in Con Ed stock during this time. In my family of choice, husband/children as opposed to the one I was born into, we celebrate Hanukkah too. I like that story too...about people who refused to be put out of a place just because the evil landlord wanted them out (sounds a bit like foreclosure these days). I like the dreidle song and getting small token gifts for the boys. I cannot wait to buy and decorate our tree and the way it smells...well really there is nothing like it any other time of the year.
As I had kids we started watching the old Christmas cartoons, amazing that most of them are the same ones I grew up with, and they are quirky yet magic for my boys. Then there is the music...oh it is hoaky and with few exceptions not exactly the thing that makes music lovers stop to close their eyes listen ....but it is catchy, admit it you have hummed at least a few tunes by the end of this season. My favorite is Ave Maria as sung by Pavarotti.
So yes it is materialistic...and yet so what??? I love buying presents for people, if I had more discretionary income I would buy more for more people, I like giving anonymous presents to needy children with different drives and really would hope that those with a lot of income share at this time of year with more than I can afford to. I do not think you need to get in debt or go so beyond your means that you avoid the mail opening for most of January, you know who you are cause I was it once or twice in my life, and maybe later. Those pesky finance charges are so not worth it....besides instead of paying them save a little money throughout the year buy for cash and you can use that finance charge money for a loved one...cause I for one have no affection for my credit card company. I love finding that gift...the one that says I thought of you. My biggest issue is that I buy gifts and I start chomping at the bit to give them...to see the person understand that the gift I gave them is not a gift card (thought please keep them coming Mom as I like the fact that we have understood one another's difference of opinion in clothing after all these years). I love wrapping the gifts and seeing the look on my boys faces when they wake up first thing on Christmas day.
I could go on and on...but even you bah humbug "I don't wrap cause I am green...you can use colorful newspapers and recycle", "I do not want my kids to get so much..so buy them less", "stores, malls, streets are crowded....ok they are but really you can buy on line or dedicate a little time to actually trying to enjoy the experience", and last "I do not celebrate anything ...well how about winter solstice and buy everyone a nice plant?" people get over it ....it is a season of giving and I am giving you this....stop to smell the trees, love the lights, enjoy a menorah and a latke and most of all be a little more like the season is meant to be ...kind to your fellow man. Buy from small business owners or buy from Target but buy with your conscience...which is pretty good at telling you when you are overspending....and your heart, the gifts may cost less and mean more.
Well I am off...because I may not have mentioned I am a notorious delayed shopper...partially because I always think I have more time than I actually do and mostly because I have a hard time not passing the gift on the day I get it. I wish you all happy holiday...and Festivus...and Christmas...and whatever else you celebrate XOXO Me