I am going to have the last of the soup for supper tonight, and that will be the end of Thanksgiving. Now here comes Christmas on it's heels. I bought a small nativity set the other day at the bargain hut where I stopped with my WHCA driver. It reminds me a little of the one we always put under the tree when I was a child. That one was given to me by my maternal grandmother, and I wish I still had it. Somehow it disappeared, but not until my adult years. I had it under my own tree when my kids were little and beyond. Ben Joe chewed up the sheep, I remember, but I don't remember what happened to the rest of it.
Anyway, I like to acknowledge the fact that Christmas is a religious holiday, even though I don't believe the story. If you are going to celebrate it, you might as well remember where it came from. Harkening back to pagan rituals to excuse the fact that we do what we do without believing the story of the birth of Christ is in my mind just a silly attempt to assuage guilt. To me it is simply a social ritual that binds us together as a society. The story of Christ's birth has all the elements of a good teaching story.....child of poor and humble parents overcomes all odds and grows up to be the greatest man who ever lived. And he does it through kindness and selflessness. And as if that weren't enough, he goes on to sacrifice all to save mankind. The idea that he is the son of God is a bit much, and the enormous strings attached to his promises of eternal life have to be glossed over, but nevertheless the story has its points. Certainly it is as good, and as believable, as Santa Claus making, by comparison, pretty meaningless gifts, and taking them all over the world in one night. Santa is equally vindictive with his threats of no toys, and lumps of coal for naughty children.
The idea of the religious Christmas is a beautiful one, and had I been born into a Christian family and raised in the church, I believe I would be grateful for it today. There is nothing I can do to change what I believe, no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I wish I could. But it does me no harm to participate, and to steal a little of what could have been a different world for me.