Christmas is ambivalent for many people. The holidays bring music and decorations that are meant to lift spirits, yet it's often reported that depression spikes upward at this time of year as well. I personally like the secular Christmas carols a lot, but have a harder time listening to some of the more religious ones.
I think that we who doubt the scriptural story of Christmas are challenged by this time of year because we see others attributing joy to a source we cannot credit.
I want to believe in peace and decency and the power of a happy heart, and so it troubles me that I see people expressing these things while ascribing to them an origin I find dubious. Alienated from the cause of their joy, I ask whether my faith in joy itself is therefore in doubt.
Then, too, it is easy to tread the path of cynicism and ask, "If peace and generosity and love of one's fellow man are so important to remember, why not remember them all year long, instead of just for the space of a month between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day?"
Nor is the task of accepting holiday cheer made any easier by buffoons in the media who try to fire up their listeners with stories about the "War on Christmas," full of outrage that department store chains ask their greeters to say "Happy Holidays" instead of extolling the specifically Christian message that the righteous desire to hear.
But the existence of pettiness and hypocrisy should never be allowed to tarnish that which is real and beautiful. If so many people have larger hearts at this time of year, that is an undeniably good thing, which can never be lessened by the fact that a few of them also have smaller minds than we'd wish.
When large numbers of people celebrate life, sing of hope, and give sanctity to joy, then we should bow our heads with them in appreciation, even if we believe differently than they do.
People are ugly and mean and vindictive year-round. The fact that some of them can be better during the Christmas season, and the fact that most can express wishes for a better world, should give us cause for boundless gratitude.
Thank you, goddess, for all occasions which lift hearts and encourage wonder.
Merry Christmas to all.