I suppose that along with many, it was obvious that the Christmas holiday had its basis in a pagan tradition. (sorry, Christians...); but I'm impressed with the more modern aspect of its evolution to the grand pervasive whirlwind that characterizes the end of the year (in the US, particularly, and most specifically.)
That said, I have no objections, but this actually inspires me to opt out of the buying frenzy. Not to be too dickish about it, but wouldn't it be super cool if instead of buying kids a ton of toys and diversions, we spent time with them, oh, I don't know, playing and talking with them and spending time listening to them?
Last weekend, I had a blast with my nephew's kids (beautiful, funny, and smart as whips) and they've got toys galore, but I wonder (and this is by way of inquiry, not critique) how different or maybe even closer the bonds among families would be if we thought less in terms of what we're going to buy than what stories will we share? What tales and memories will we be creating by sharing our time, our presence?
It's just a thought. We bemoan the stress of the holiday and the crowds at the stores and the myriad inconveniences and struggles. Fine. Then let's resolve to stop it. Let's continue to celebrate, but maybe during the year leading up to the winter quiet, spend more time in reflecting on what this time of year means.
If my Christian brothers and sisters wish to celebrate their savior's virgin birth, I say great! If my non-Christian friends and family wish to pursue other activities and spend time not feeling the pressure of the holiday, I say fine!
Yes, yes, I hear some say, "but this time of year is for kids! You wanna not give kids toys, ya pieceashit?" That's not what I'm saying; gifts are great, but better is cultivating the thoughtfulness and care that motivates and guides the giving.
If the spirit of the season is what's so important, why do we only practice or give it more lip-service only during this time? Can we work together on making it year round, giving to each other, young and old, the spirit - as opposed to things - each day, every day? Willingly? As fully as we are capable? Can we say we will give of ourselves selflessly, happily, each day? Can each day be Christmas?