Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Greetings of the uh, season

Most of our friends are a mixed lot: lapsed Jews, lapsed Catholics, lapsed Catholics married to lapsed Jews, Unitarians, Druids, and people who can't be bothered with religious stuff. These are nice, socially conscious people, who think that the greatest gift they can give someone is a donation to some charity in the recipient's name.

Like most people, they like to send cards to their friends during the holiday season, but they do not want to offend. So, pictures of the Virgin Mary, the Wise Men, stables, Christmas trees, and country churches in the snow are out.

Santa Claus or snowmen are okay, if a little juvenile for their tastes. They prefer to send pictures of doves, other cute birds, puppies, kittens, mailboxes covered with snow, or stylized abstract designs.

The messages are becoming increasingly vague and noncommittal. Forget Merry Christmas--they now wish you happy holidays, joys of the season, or a very jolly time.

Any day now, I expect to receive a card wishing me and mine a very successful fourth quarter.

My friends are being too sensitive: I don't mind anyone wishing me a Merry Christmas. I assume it's well meant. And I like the festive nature of the season, the sheer Bing Crosbyness of the whole thing. Chestnuts roasting, performances of the Nutcracker and the Messiah, bustling stores, you know the drill. Even a bit of snow doesn't come amiss.

What I don't like is the wretched excess--Christmas seems to take up about a sixth of the year nowadays. Right after Halloween, as the skeletons are being put away and plastic turkeys make a cursory appearance, Christmas decorations come out, the radio stations play nothing but Christmas carols, and the television networks run It's a Wonderful Life 24/7. By about December 15, my enthusiasm starts to flag.

Still, I wish everyone a very merry whatever you like. So there!

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