Thinking About Christmas

Christmas tree in Berlin, Germany

Image via Wikipedia

I stopped celebrating christmas a few years ago. My kids grew up and stopped enjoying it. We are raising our family in the jewish faith and christmas was always a bit of a ‘dad thing’ anyway

We’ve been doing these big two week trips to other parts of the world over the christmas/new years break and I haven’t been home for christmas in seven years. For a while we timeshifted christmas to early December and that worked well but probably led us down the path that ultimately got us to where we are now

I don’t miss christmas much to be honest. I certainly don’t miss the materialistic parts of it. I’ve been getting gifts that I don’t want or need since high school and it always bothered me. I am so much happier to be done with that. I don’t like material gifts very much anyway. And I hate shopping.

I do miss getting the tree, putting it up, and decorating it. I don’t miss taking it down and cleaning up the mess it made.

I miss the big family dinner and the excitement on the little kids’ faces. We don’t have any little kids in our family right now but when we do again, I’ll want to figure out how to get that back. Its the best thing about christmas in my mind

I also miss going to church on christmas. A few years back we were in Siena and I went to the Duomo for christmas mass. That was great. I don’t subscribe to any religion invented by man (which is all of them), but I do enjoy the sounds and smells of church on christmas. And it was better for me to go to church in a foriegn country where I didn’t understand a word the priest said.  I got to sit back and enjoy the spectacle of it all.

Even though I’ve given up celebrating Christmas, it still means something to me. Its a time of year when we stop doing what we do, take a break, spend time with our family, think about others, and give them gifts. That’s a pretty special list right there.

I’ve been very fortunate in life. I’m only 47 but have obtained most of what I’ve wanted out of life; a wonderful family and a work life that has been financially and intellectually rewarding. We’ve done this in our own way and on our own. We’ve been incredibly lucky and we’ve also worked hard at it.

I get gifts all the time like the bottle of wine sitting on my desk in the office or the box of chocolates. I honestly could care less about that stuff and getting it sort of annoys me. I’d love it if people stopped giving me stuff like that.

The gifts that matter to me are the emails I get from people sharing a personal story with me, or the comments on this blog and others that make me laugh, think, or cry. Or the contributions to Donors Choose you all made in October. Or the ideas you share with me about how we can work together to fix this broken world and make it better.

I’m going to spend this christmas with my family in Berlin, seeing art and history and then we’ll go to the Nutcraker this evening and finish with a family dinner. So I guess I’ve not given up celebrating Christmas entirely after all.

Merry Christmas everyone, including all Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other faiths out there. Have a wonderful holiday and let’s share some gifts with each other that really matter this year.

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