Goshen News, Goshen, IN


December 2, 2012

No deer antlers, tinsel or Rudolph noses here

My children won’t experience the magic of Christmas. No presents, no sugar plums, no twinkling lights or mythical, big-bellied ho-ho’er breaking and entering into our house to deposit Lego sets or ponies. Probably no special cookies, even, though we sometimes buy leftover candy canes when they go on clearance.

Have you gasped in horror? My poor, underprivileged children? Well, don’t worry. I’m writing to remind you not everybody celebrates this season — and those of us who don’t are perfectly healthy and happy, even, or especially maybe, the children. I might even suggest we’re faring better, on about Dec. 26, than some do. No hangovers — the food, alcohol, credit-card or emotional kind — and no “Is that IT?” or “I have to clean all this up?” letdown.

And just because of the makeup of the season — breaks from university for me and days off from the sawmill for my husband — we do often get to enjoy more time together than we normally would. We pass the days, then, like we would any time we have hours together: talking, playing, painting, reading, sledding, napping, learning, singing, eating, snuggling, working. Just not “Christmasing.”

I DON’T MAKE A BIG DEAL about the fact we don’t celebrate most U.S., Pagan, Christian or others-sanctioned holidays. I just don’t do it and don’t really talk about not doing it. But sometimes it comes up in conversation and people figure out that I’ve not once said, “Happy Holidays” and definitely have never worn reindeer antlers on my head or a red bulb on my nose.

And occasionally someone will ask, “Why not?”

It’s a super-simple question with a super-simple answer, but no matter what I say, it’s sure to be misunderstood, so I often answer this way: “Just can’t find a good reason to celebrate but have lots of reasons not to.” If I elaborate, especially if I mention the Almighty of the Scriptures and His words to His people, most people will relegate the rationale to a religious category: “Oh, they’re kind of Jewish, and they’re not allowed to celebrate” or “They don’t believe in Christmas.”

Neither is it, by the way, but I don’t argue. Our religion — by which I just mean a set of mores by which one lives, so all people, even atheists, have a religion — doesn’t include “not allowed” in its vernacular. No list of rules and regulations here, and when it comes to Christmas and other holidays, frankly, I think of it as, “Whew! I don’t HAVE to!” rather than I don’t GET to.

Truly: I can’t tell you how often I hear people talk about the hassle, hustle, pressure and frustration they feel around these holidays as they work hard to drum up feelings of wonder and to please people, especially children. Suicide rates are said to go up around Christmas. We don’t have those frustrations, and let me tell you, I do not miss them.

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