For many years I cherished the feeling that grew during the Fall and into the Winter Solstice of the rebirth of optimism Christmas offers. Whether you are Christian or not the sensations of Christmas with its bonhomie can find their way into your psyche, creating a certain warmth of that inexplicable attribute we often call “heart.” I always wondered how people could do other at Christmas than to feel the uplift of the season. I occasionally saw a Scrooge who, more often than not, was an intellectual or a would be intellectual who chose to derogate Christmas as some kind of mass hallucination possessing groups of people and in their derogative behavior wanted you to consider them and their intellectual prowess over the common man; as in “I have the ability to see through the hallucination and am, therefore, superior to you.” You run across these pseudo-intellectuals all the time in politics. Sometimes we just call them contrarians who seek non-conformity as their vehicle to fame. Something to make them stand out from the crowd.
Yes, for all its commercialism and displays of overindulgence and excessive spending, Christmas still provides an uplifting for the majority of those who practice either the religious or secular traditions of the season. It makes you feel good about yourself and others. It is a reason for reunion and yes, it still provides the optimism of having made it through another year, however challenging that year may have been. Yet, the very uplift that it provides the majority digs deeper the depression into which many fall during the season. Togetherness for many only heightens the loneliness of those without family or friends. Cheerful spirits and convivial greetings are long forgotten experiences for those who struggle with estrangement from family, friendly society or, in many cases, their own memories.
Having now seen Christmas from its multiple sides I offer no advice other than to encourage you to enjoy the season as best you can while not forgetting the stress the season may cause for many. Be attentive and do what you can to help ease those stresses, but most of all, be understanding that Christmas is not always a gladdening time for everyone. And Still,
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, or as is said in the seminary, Happy Holy Days!!