It's December 24. Tomorrow, not surprisingly, is the 25th. Some people make a big deal out of the day.
Christmas! Presents! Baby Jesus!
Other people, like my wife and me, look upon it pretty much as any other day. Except, Laurel is taking the opportunity of a holiday to try out a new recipe for a walnut loaf.
At the moment I'm listening to Christmas songs being played on the sound system of my favorite blogging-friendly coffee house. The music is pleasant enough, though not what I choose to listen to myself.
Which basically sums up my evolving churchless attitude toward Christmas. I used to get aggravated by all the displays of religiosity here in the United States.
Even though I live in Oregon, which is one of the least religious states, there's still plenty of Jesusosity floating around this time of year. That's hard to avoid when a holiday is named after a religious figure.
But whereas I used to reply to a "Merry Christmas" with a "same to you" or "Happy Holidays," now I usually echo the greeting. Yes, Merry Christmas.
Naturally I don't believe Jesus Christ is the son of God, or anything else miraculous -- assuming he even existed. However, if people want to believe that he died for our sins and was resurrected to live on at the right hand of God, where he's waiting to welcome true believers to heaven, that's fine.
And an interesting cultural phenomenon.
Along with blow-up Santas and snowmen that I see on the front lawns of houses, manger scenes rather incongruously interspersed with elves, reindeer, and such, and all the other often weird trappings with which Christmas is celebrated in the United States.
NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, has a pretty elaborate web site showing Santa's progress around the world. I just hope they're also continuing to keep an eye out for rogue nuclear missiles.
Like everything else religious (or in the case of Christmas, semi-religious), manifestations of blind belief are a lot more palatable to me when I view them as just part of the strange stuff that we humans do.
For sure, much of what I do doesn't make sense to many other people, including my wife.
When I sit down in front of the TV, engrossed in watching two teams try to maneuver an oval ball across a goal line, her attitude is OK, whatever; when is this ridiculousness going to be over?
Of course, I don't try to convert people to the blessedness of watching college football. And I don't think the Oregon Ducks are especially favored by the sports gods (though if they beat Ohio State in the Rose Bowl by 40 points, I might change my mind).
So here's to celebrating tomorrow however you want. Including not at all. Merry Whatever!
I'll end by sharing our 2009 Holiday Greetings (a PDF file), which soon will take its place in the pantheon of our other Christmas letters. This year I focused on the string of disasters that befell us.
Download 2009 Christmas Letter