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Christmas 2020

A Barry Manilow Christmas song came on the radio in the car not long ago. “Seems strange,” someone commented to me, “for a Jew to be recording Christmas records.” It actually didn’t seem strange to me at all. Surely a large percentage of his fans would be Christmas-celebrating Christians, so why not try to please them? Besides, Jesus was a Jew anyway. Mostly though it got me thinking on the special day and its different meanings. It’s because of the multiplicity of meanings that it so important to us.

Obviously, to some, the day is a purely religious day, one picked to mark the birth of Jesus in that manger some 2000-odd years ago. There’s enough historical data and non-religious referencing of him to know he surely existed; if you’re devoutly Christian, you further believe he was God walking among us and hastened the transition between the angry Old Testament God and the more tolerant and loving New Testament one. Which of course is reason enough for a pretty big celebration and giving of thanks. Even some other religions like the Bahais acknowledge Jesus’ life and his role as a blessed and significant messenger of God. So there’s that.

Then there’s the modern, secular Christmas too, a day of a whole different species. The Christmas that lights up small kids’ faces with thoughts of Santa Claus coming to town. For adults, sure there is a downside to it all – the hustle and bustle, the new year’s credit card bills – but it’s a pretty special day of being with family, other loved ones. Of giving and getting gifts and smiles and laughs. And there’s the food…

For me, both are valid and both are reasons to celebrate and enjoy, Christian, Jew, aetheist or other persuasion. I’ve not much liked the shopping or the crowded malls historically, but I’ve always loved other aspects of it. The nighttime Christmas lights, the movies and specials, the getting together with family and friends (which some years ended up getting short shrift while I was working overtime and being too wrapped up in the …well, wrapping of the day.) My mom and I used to watch the old Alistair Sim A Christmas Carol annually for years, very often on Christmas Eve. The season still doesn’t seem complete without seeing the Charlie Brown Christmas or Rudolph, fond memories of my ’70s childhood that still persevere to this day. More recently, since having family of my own, Elf and A Christmas Story have been added to that list of must-sees. Those happy traditions mean more to me than most of the boxes I might open from underneath the tree, though I do quite like that too, as well as seeing the smiles of those opening the ones I placed there.

This year though, as so many have pointed out, will be a bit different. We’re still seeing the beloved shows and movies and hearing the festive songs. We’re still going to have a nice meal – ham or turkey hasn’t been decided yet – but there’ll be no big gathering of my sweetie’s extended family. We’ve been ordering a bit more online and going into stores a lot less. The pile underneath said tree may look modest this year compared to many. But that’s OK with me. I hate the reason for it – the pandemic obviously (which I must admit, back in March, I never really thought we’d still need to be talking about in December, let alone taking precautions against) – but I don’t mind the changes. As my mother-in-law said in her aged wisdom, “this isn’t the year to celebrate.”

She’s right, if that means not celebrating like most years. But I think perhaps the scaled back Christmas itself might be something worth celebrating, if we really look at it. It’s a day to really enjoy those still around us in our household and perhaps consider the importance of those who aren’t here to us; maybe appreciate them more when things go back to normal and we can once more enjoy their company. Maybe we can celebrate that having a little more time to relax at home and less time in crowds, pushing and shoving is a good tradeoff for one or two less boxes to rip open on the 25th (which in too many cases are stashed away in the closet by the 27th). A time to celebrate, those of us lucky enough to be feeling fit, enjoy our health and lives, and sad as it may be, to remember those who’ve left us this year , from Covid or any other unfortunate demise, and celebrate the time we had together.

So, yep, 2020’s been a trying year. But I raise a glass to it and its lessons, and raise a glass to all you dear readers hoping you’ll have a happy Christmas, no matter what that might mean to you.

15 Replies to “Christmas 2020”

  1. Dave you’re so right that Christmas is always a mixed bag with many variables to consider. This year is the undisputed worst holiday season on record for me. That said, I’m still alive, so it isn’t a total loss. Best Wishes to You and Yours, Dave.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. When I grew up…we never had a nativity scene ever. I wondered what it was…turns out that my mom believed in God and Jesus but not as Christmas as his birthday so it was just about us getting together…and that was one day of the year my mom and dad would get along…after their divorce.

    It’s always meant a lot to me…yea this year is different but we need to soak up all the good we can…because we are not through yet. Let’s hope next year at this time we are not still wearing masks and hoping for a normal world again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed – let’s hope this is behind us by Christmas ’21. I wonder if wearing masks in crowds will become the new norm in winter in the future. Wouldn’t be a bad change, I guess, given that every year so many get the flu. I used to think it bizarre when I’d see Asian video of places like tokyo or Shanghai where everyone masked up for the commute and in malls, but now it seems they were quite smart.
      Although my mom was technically Anglican and my dad fairly spiritual, I grew up with christmas being pretty secular in nature. Only when I hit my 20s and started dating a minister’s daughter did I take more to the religious side. The Christmas Eve services at her church were my favorites of the year, with all the candles and things.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I dated a Catholic at one time and went to mass…that was all new to me but it was really interesting. I also dated a Baptist minister’s daughter and we went to Church services.

        Yea I’ve read about the Asians with masks…it is a good idea. A mask feels pretty good in the cold anyway. They also do it because of bad air quality over there.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. true, the air quality probably a big part of that Asian habit too. If it gets cold enough to warrant a scarf around the mouth this winter, it won’t seem so annoying!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Did you get your snow? Here we already have a ‘Special Weather Statement” preparing us for snow or freezing rain on NYE after possibly severe t’storms late Wednesday.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. like everything else about 2020, it’s going out in a memorable way. Today we’ve got about 38 degrees (fortunately! ) and hour after hour of pounding rain. Snow and sleet only about a half hour away from us… and as I write this, it’s thundering! Yesterday we had two inches of rain and while it wasn’t especially stormy right here, a tornado touched down about 25 miles away.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Appropriate end to year. Still rainy here, sleet & snow line staying just to north & west. Of course, if it does turn to snow maybe it’ll keep the party crowd home for once.

        Liked by 1 person

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