We don’t have any official winter holidays in the LV-426 Tradition, or at least not currently. This isn’t to say that we don’t care for the season, or that we don’t celebrate Christmas or the Winter Solstice at all. We do celebrate Christmas with our families, but for some of us at least, it’s really just a family or cultural thing and not a religious or spiritual matter. As for the Solstice, we almost never get to celebrate it together. There have been years when we’ve managed to get together on the Sabbath closest to the Solstice to exchange gifts; but generally speaking, there’s always too much happening at this time of year for us to find the time. Except for years when it’s on a weekend, each of us usually has to work on the Solstice; and even when that isn’t the case, there’s usually too much last-minute shopping we have to do in preparation for Christmas.
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. If we really cared that much about making the Winter Solstice or Christmas or what-have-you an official LV-426 holiday, we would take a vote and make a group decision about it. As it stands, however, this subject doesn’t even come up for discussion that much. I guess we each become too immersed in our own families at this time of year for our smaller family with Seth to be much of a priority. I know that probably sounds kind of sad, but it’s really okay; the last thing we want at this time of year is another holiday that we have to worry about on top of all the others. (Don’t forget; there are two Sabbaths during the final week of December as well! Heck, Christmas Day is on one of them this year, and New Year’s Day is on the other!) And since this issue almost never comes up between us anyway, we take it as a sign that Big Red doesn’t care to make a big deal about it either. So the easiest thing for us to do regarding an official LV-426 winter holiday is simply not to have one at all.
Actually, if I were to make a big deal about any winter holiday, it would be the cross-quarter day in February, which people usually call Imbolc or Candlemas. Some people say Yuletide is all about “the birth of the Sun” (or “the Son”), but I disagree. It seems to me that the Sun is really just a “fetus” at the Solstice, and that it isn’t properly “born” again until the Vernal Equinox. So to my mind, Imbolc is a much happier occasion than the Solstice because it truly is the midpoint of winter (scientifically speaking) and it means the Sun is just about to be “born” for real. All the Solstice makes me think about is how miserable I am that we still have an entire winter to get through (since it’s technically only the first day of winter!). Also, once Christmas and New Year’s are finished, we don’t have any major PTO holidays to look forward to again until Memorial Day. (Easter cheats by always landing on a Sunday.) What the hell is that about? We all need a major holiday in February to brighten things up, so I’m thinking about making a big deal about Candlemas with my family when February comes around.
But back to Christmas. So in case you can’t already tell, I’m admittedly a bit cynical about this holiday. Mind you, I’m not one of those Pagans who insists that Christians “stole” Christmas from ancient polytheists. It’s certainly true that it’s been influenced by polytheist ideas (especially when it comes to trees, mistletoe, elves and reindeer), but I think Christmas really belongs to just about anyone who wants it at this point. This includes Christians, Pagans, and even atheists. Sure, it might be named after Jesus Christ, but think of it this way: the days of the week are named after Norse and Roman Gods, and most Christians and atheists don’t care about that. (Some do, but please note that I said most.) Now I’m no expert on the Goddess Frigg, but I don’t think that shouting “Happy Friday!” really counts as “praising” Her. So I fail to see why it should be any different for Christmas when it comes to non-Christians. Saying “Merry Christmas” doesn’t mean I’m praising Jesus or blaspheming Seth in any way, shape or form.
On the other hand, saying “Happy Holidays” doesn’t cause any harm either. There are several different holidays observed at this time of year, and not everyone celebrates Christmas. I don’t see anything wrong with there being baby Jesuses in public spaces (as long as Baphomets are allowed too), but it’s just rude to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” without knowing if they actually celebrate it or not. Saying “Happy Holidays” is a good alternative because at least it covers New Year’s as well, and pretty much everyone in the Western world recognizes New Year’s (regardless of whether they’re religious or non-religious). It really bothers me that some people think I’m infringing on their right to celebrate Christmas whenever I say, “Happy Holidays.” No, you morons; I’m just trying to be polite. If I know you celebrate Christmas, I’ll wish you a Merry Christmas; if I know you celebrate something else, I’ll say “Happy Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Saturnalia/Yule,” etc. And if I don’t know what the hell you celebrate, I’ll just wish you Happy Holidays. That’s what respectful 21st century adult people do, man. And as you’ve probably guessed by now, there are things said on both sides of this so-called “war on Christmas” dispute that I think are just plain ridiculous.
One other reason why I’m somewhat cynical of the winter holiday season is the rampant commercialism, the noise, and the sheer amount of stress that’s involved. I get tired real fast of seeing Christmas merchandise hit stores as early as August every year. I am easily fatigued by the relentless onslaught of holiday TV and radio commercials. Shopping gives me anxiety to begin with, and holiday shopping increases my anxiety through the goddamn roof. I resent how the tradition of gift-giving is often escalated from being a voluntary demonstration of genuine love to being a compulsory social obligation. And when you’re married to someone whose parents are divorced (with one of them being remarried), it can be extremely difficult finding time to visit everyone in your family on Christmas Day. Without fail, I always come to the same inevitable conclusion every winter holiday season: This doesn’t really feel like a holiday, because I just can’t seem to relax.
So the bitch of it is, I really don’t enjoy the winter holidays as much as I wish I did. Don’t get me wrong; I have many nostalgic memories concerning this time of year, and I do feel a certain amount of reverence for the season. It’s just that there’s so much stress and annoying external stimuli to go along with it that I don’t even have time to focus on happy Christmas memories anymore. Even when I do, they often make me feel sad; and I suppose I’m not alone in that respect. Hell, this Christmas is sure to be a doozy since it will be my wife’s first one without her mother. I’ve already started on damage control; each time my wife starts feeling sad, I try to cheer her up with memories of funny things that happened in previous years. Usually this works, but I don’t know how well we’re going to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day themselves. I guess the only way out is through, right?
Anyway…for what it’s worth, I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas has a Merry Christmas. I hope everyone who celebrates Yule has a Merry Yule. I hope everyone who observes Kwanzaa has a Happy Kwanzaa. I hope everyone who celebrates Saturnalia has a Happy Saturnalia. And of course, I hope everyone has a Happy New Year. Whatever the hell it is you celebrate at this time of year (if anything), I hope you all have a damn good time. May the Gods smile upon each and every one of you, and may none of you feel lonely or sad, not even for a millisecond. I guess the real point to the winter holiday season is coming together in the darkness and trying to find some joy together. Well, here’s a little something that always makes me laugh my ass off; these are two of my favorite scenes from my favorite Christmas movie ever, Ernest Saves Christmas (1988). May they bring you some joy as well!
Happy Holidays, folks!