Christmas is the day that holds all time together

Wow, holidays are weird. I know that's not revolutionary news, but why do we need a reminder every single time they roll around?

Some people seem to be getting really growly lately about the whole "Happy Holidays" thing. They seem to perceive others' repetition of the words "Merry Christmas" as integral to their own celebration and keeping holy of Christmas. I don't get that. If someone else does not, for their own religious or practical or emotional reasons, celebrate the same holidays that I do, how does it diminish my own--particularly if they make an attempt to acknowledge mine by way of wishing me a happy one? Isn't rejection of that attempt at friendliness then my problem, and not theirs?

Maybe I really don't get it. But, seriously, people do the best they can. Good wishes...can't they just be good?

It's snowing tonight. I suppose that's a happy sign for the season, but it makes me sort of weary. I was getting used to non-winter weather and will need a chance to reorient to taking extra travel time or scraping and brushing off the car before I can get going. It could be a whole lot more dramatic than it is right now, for which I am grateful. Last year by this time was a doozy already.

Tonight was the Christmas thing at my brother's house. It was relatively low-key, as my sister-in-law's children were not in attendance. They range in age from young teen to mid-twenties, and as such are not much interested in the rest of us. I suppose that's not as much an automatic thing as in the way they were brought up; the two boys are pretty much oblivious, and the three girls are snobby little brats. (Well, maybe they're really just obvious, too, but it comes off differently when one is face to face with them and they can't be troubled to make even a slight attempt at socializing.)

I feel sort of bad about these holiday events, because the little kids (my niece's two children, ages 4 and 7) really get thrown into it. They're seeing people that they haven't been around in a year or so, they're keyed up because of travel and a hotel stay (with a pool, of course) and the lure of gifts, and they are just completely mental as a result. Meanwhile, they're dealing with their grandfather (my brother, a fact that still makes me giggle) and their great-grandparents (a role that's fitting my parents more and more every year, though they have to force it a bit and end up seeming a little stilted when they act "old") and, worst of all, me (who they can't quite place, and who deals with kids by treating them like adults, which no one else in the family does). In all, it's got to be bewildering and borderline annoying for them. That they get through it without pitching a massive fit is pretty amazing. As it is, the three of them were annoying as heck by the time we left this evening; I've rarely been so glad to bail out of a social event as I was when I sidled to the door.

And now, home. Tired, melancholy, bittersweet, excited to get up tomorrow in spite of the knowledge that my stocking will remain unfilled. There are, however, boxes and bags beneath the tree, waiting to be opened. There are, as well, cards that wait to be written and sent. I'm going with a more "Happy New Year" than "Merry Christmas" theme again this year, and predict that they'll all be out by the 5th of January or so. That's the end of the 12 days, right? And it's the thought that counts.

Time for bed, right? Santa can't come if I'm not asleep before midnight, and "if one does not believe, one does not receive."

[the title quotation is by Alexander Smith]

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