Happy Holidays, and I mean it

I have always been a Christmas guy. I grew up in the suburbs where most houses strung lights across the roof, and I loved going around at night to see them. My parents used to take us for drives in areas where they heard there were impressive displays. Friends from work would talk about their neighborhoods with pride so we’d go check them out. That’s one of the ways we celebrated.

Some people embrace religion and focus on the “reason for the season” — and with so many religions, there are many reasons. Some people enjoy the commercial aspect and really look forward to the gifts, decorations, and friendly traditions. Some are just into the nostalgia of the past; Christmas means their childhood, all magic and anticipation and joy.

Whether you see a lit-up tree in someone’s living room, a shining menorah in the window, a Yule log in the fire, or one of those houses that went way overboard with every decoration they could find, recognize it for what it is: Their public way of expressing warm fuzzies. They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t want to share their happiness with everyone around them. The holidays are a time when it’s socially acceptable to be openly, publicly happy. Christmas is an excuse, and it can be as generic or specific as you like.

If someone says “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hannukah” or “Blessed Yule” to you this year, don’t immediately think of how that doesn’t include you. All they’re saying is “I’m happy right now, and I hope you are too.” Whether you frequent a synagogue, a chapel, a grove of trees, or a mall, embrace your personal celebration of magic, anticipation, and joy.