I had as fine a Christmas as my friend-hostess could offer, in the midst of her illness and discomfort.  Five of us enjoyed a brunch of souffle, tamales, pear-cinnamon cider, petite Danish pastries and various snack items and dips.  Gifts were exchanged, and I will burn my Bayberry Candles for as many days as they will hold up- and get more when they run out.  Bayberry is a legendary prosperity talisman.  More important is my set of CD’s for “The 11 Forgotten Laws”, of Bounty.  I was glad to have been there today.

I’ve attended many celebrations, both public and private, large and small, joyous and sketchy, over these past 63 years.  People have typically done the best they can for their loved ones and other guests.  My parents always gave us a lovely Christmas, even in the lean years.  I can’t recall any substandard extended family gathering, from weddings to birthdays to holiday get-togethers, ever.  We never have made it about the gifts.  A good celebration is always about the people.

Time was, that our celebrations were  New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, maybe Mardi Gras (called Fat Tuesday, in Phoenix), St. Patrick’s Day,Easter, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Modern life has added to the fray:  Super Bowl Sunday, Lunar New Year, the Final Four, Cinco de Mayo, and Hanukkah (on a wider scale than when I was a child).  Even our solemn national days (Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day) have become widely celebratory in tone.

What hurts celebrations, in the long run, is an overemphasis on purchasing.  A holiday is then more about contributing to the economy, meeting another’s superficial needs through gifting or  even obeying one’s parents ( “Janie, YOU GET ON SANTA’S LAP, NOW!!”).

Celebrations, ideally, are about love, honour, respect and healing.  Christ brought an ethos of love to the world- so His special days, Christmas and Easter, ought to be the least stressful days of the year.  I am not here to judge anyone, but reflect- How was your Christmas?  Mine was lovely- not problem-free, mind you, but the things that did arise were handled with the dignity and well-being of all concerned, from youngest to oldest, being most important.  Each of us can bring about happiness for ourselves and for those we say we love.

If your Christmas celebrations are ongoing, keep the fun happening.  In any party, please look about, spread the joy and make sure no one feels uncomfortable or left out, to the extent possible.

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