Friday, December 25, 2009

Have whatever Christmas you want

Or none at all, if that's what floats your boat.

[T]here are indicators that Christmas revelry in general may be slipping among the population at large. The Christmas Spirit Foundation, a charity that provides holiday assistance to needy children and sends Christmas trees to military families, has been examining people’s plans for the holidays for the last five years. This year’s survey, conducted by the polling firm Harris Interactive, found that while 95 percent of households plan to celebrate Christmas (about the same as every year), the percentage of families who plan to exchange gifts is dropping: 77 percent this year, down from 85 percent in 2005. Slightly fewer people said they were going to attend parties or listen to Christmas music, too.

Another organization hired Harris to conduct a different type of Christmas poll — this one on holiday stress. The survey, commissioned by Breakthrough at Caron, a residential program for adults suffering from drug and alcohol addiction as well as dysfunctional family situations, found holiday stress to be almost universal — 90 percent of respondents said they suffered from it — but that this year the feeling was amplified. Thirty-eight percent of the people polled said they expected to feel more anxiety this holiday season than last. Most blamed the economy, but 77 percent also cited family conflicts.

“There’s a lot of pain associated with Christmas,” said Hank Stuever, the author of a new book, “Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present,” which follows the Yuletide preparations of three families in a sprawling Dallas suburb over three consecutive years, 2006 to 2008. “There’s a lot of joy, too. You’re supposed to be happy — thank you, Charles Dickens — and when you aren’t, you feel bad.”

As someone who has had my share of Christmas, both good and bad, growing up as I did with many siblings, 2 parents, and for a time a grandmother under one roof with one bathroom, I understand sentiments all around with this.

I think the key to doing any of this - or not at all - is to make sure you're the one doing it, that you show up. As I've noted, it's good to have a holiday for kids, and this year, IMO, it's a kindness to retailers who have had their share of issues this year themselves. In my vicinity quite a few stores have gone out of business in the past year, and it's almost irrelevant how long they've been in business. So, this year I lean a little more towards Christmas than against it. And, no, it's not about the baby Jesus; it's a solstice holiday we call Christmas. And all of us can have the holiday if we want. Or not.

A while back Barbara O'Brien asked Buddhists what they do about Christmas.

I think the rest of the world has the same question about themselves, and if they address it they can do a little more holiday kindness than otherwise might be possible.

That's my opinion, yours may vary.

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