I always dread the months of December, January and most of February. First, because there is no NASCAR and life without NASCAR is, well, like a day without sunshine. Second, television programming sucks during this period. I watch NASCAR and news and that's pretty much it for me and television. In December and January, regular programming is more often than not preempted. Guest hosts fill in for the vacationing regulars with whom I've grown comfortable. News stories focus on a lot of soft stuff, like how to cook a Christmas ham and what gifts children want most and inspirational bits, such as young Christmas carolers serenading shut-ins.
During the Christmas portion of this period, there are many religious shows, which is natural, of course, but not my cup of tea, so I skip them. Fox News invariably rails about the so-called War on Christmas....a non-issue if ever there was one. Christmas has never "belonged" to any particular religion, despite what Christian fundamentalists believe.
Pagans were celebrating the winter solstice clear back in the mists of time. Probably even Neanderthals, whose lives revolved around the weather, recognized with joy when they were on the downhill side of winter. Our own Christmas was very likely deliberately created as a direct reaction against the Roman holiday, Saturnalia. Saturn being the God of Agriculture and the winter solstice when he was paid homage.
No one knew for sure when Jesus was born so why not proclaim his birthday, December 25, and give Christians something holy to celebrate rather than being tempted to engage in the drunken revelry that characterized Saturnalia.
So, Christmas with all its various trappings was borrowed from one generation to another and one country to another and one religion to another, despite Fox News and the rigid Christians wanting to claim it for their very own. It would be easier to believe in the sincerity of the Christian warriors if they confined themselves strictly to what they say they believe Christmas represents....Christ's Mass...a time of spiritual renewal. But, they buy into Christmas trees and Santa Claus and elves and mistletoe and wrapping paper and ribbons and decorated cookies....
Instead, they've now turned Christmas into something to be anxious about. I used to abbreviate Christmas to Xmas when I wrote long messages in cards (X, after all, being chi in Greek, the first letter in the Greek word for Christ, Xristos) but now I'm afraid I'll offend my correspondent if I do that....causing them anger instead of pleasure...defeating my purpose entirely. I used to use the terms Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays interchangeably (the word holiday, after all, meaning Holy Day) but now I'm afraid some outraged Christian will hit me if I inadvertently use the wrong greeting.
What a bunch of nonsense it all is. I'm happy if anyone wishes me glad tidings whatever form they take. Christmas should be about love and friendship and family and the generosity of giving from the heart. It should be a joyful state of mind. It shouldn't make you worry that you've stepped out of some person's cramped little view because they own it and get to be the ones to define it.
Happy Holidays, everyone!