Christmas Day Open Thread

Last year I put up a Christmas Day Open Thread.  So I thought I would do it again and make it a tradition.  

Christmas is such a central part of our culture.  For many it is truly a time of joy and family and tradition.  But for many others it is a time of stress. Or it is both.  

Last year I asked if you don’t observe the holiday, how do you feel about it?    Lightiris mentions last year that she has a Festivus Pole.  She’s a facebook friend and she and another BMGer had a conversation about his transition from a Chrstmas Tree to a Festivus Pole.  This year it has lights.  Next year???

Christmas can bring so much stress, from overeating to substance issues.  I have a relative who is in recovery and he talks about how hard it is to see other people drinking and having a good time and thinking, maybe if I were drinking I’d be having more fun.  

Please share your joy and your stress here.  

Well my husband is telling me that our guest is due soon and there are a few things to get ready.  I’ll have more thoughts in the comments.

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22 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Gift Baskets and Vases

    Gifts arrived a few minutes ago in a basket.  That reminded me to post this suggestion.  Many people give and receive gift baskets of food or other stuff.  I think gifts of food are a great idea.  But what do you do with the basket?  If you aren't going to use it yourself, consider donating it to a local florist.  You can also donate vases if you got flowers.  

  2. Going traditional

    Chinese and a movie this year with a friend. David Mamet speaks for me.

    Merry Christmas everybody!

    (Also: go Celtics!)

    • Yep

      I come from a Catholic family but we do the big Christmas stuff on Christmas eve, the dinner with extended family, ma's lasagna and meatballs, egg nog, desserts, and of course presents. But since there is no longer any grandmas house to go to, my parents and I usually spend a lazy day eating leftovers and sometimes my brother and I or my dad and I will go to the movies. And then its usually Chinese for dinner since my ma's tired of cooking. So its the best of both worlds in a way.  

  3. Merry Christmas! Season's Greetings!

    It's a better holiday when you've got little kids. Our immediate family's youngest is in 4th grade. Our own are 12, 12, and 16, so the morning has lost a lot of its excitement. On the other hand, I slept until 7:30, which is a nice.

    We don't see any relatives we don't see at least once a week, so today will be anti-climactic, but it still beats working. I got about 10 books, so have enough to read for the next year. Based on the clothes my wife gave me, she must think I'm a candy striper at work. Oh well, that's what receipts are for.

  4. Question

    Why a festivus pole and not a Christmas tree? Its not like a Christmas tree has any Christian meaning or connotation (one of many traditions borrowed from earlier pagan celebrations). For the life of me I have no idea why non-religious people can't enjoy Christmas. Just don't dwell on the Christ part and view it as another Thanksgiving for presents, whats wrong with that? Why can't you do everything the Christians do minus the going to church part (and most of us aren't even doing that anymore)? I mean if you are a huge Seinfeld fan I completely understand and I respect everyone's traditions, but really to all the non-believers out there, the tree can be used by everyone since its really not that Christian to begin with. Nearly all of my atheist and non-Christian friends celebrate Christmas as just another American holiday, I don't see why its this big deal.  

    • Some people do both

      Lightiris mentioned that she did both a Festivus Pole and A Christmas Tree.   The friend who posted posted on facebook said "It's the first year I've put one up. It won't be the last though!  I thought the lights would be an easier transition from a tree to the pole. Next year? NO LIGHTS! :)"  

      To answer your more general question, I'm agnostic and celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday.  But I can understand that to people who have strong non-Christian religious beliefs, the celebration can be problematic.  

      I am truly interested in people's thoughts.  That is one of the reasons I started the thread.  

      • Fair enough

        I'm agnostic and celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday

        As do most Americans regardless of religious affiliation. I mean don't get me wrong I take Advent and the real meaning of Christmas from a Christian standpoint quite seriously, but to me Christmas is radically different from Easter. Easter is the more important holiday and has less secular connotations and celebratory aspects to it. The reverse is true of Christmas, which is simply a major feast day equally important as All Saints, All Souls, etc. equal even to Feat of the Holy Family which is today incidentally, and which I doubt will have as much attendance as the masses from the day and night before. But Easter and Holy Week are the most important, and are preceded by Lent which is much more serious than Advent to prepare for. To get back to my original point, I really don't see how even a very militant and adamant atheist can't find something nice about Christmas. Even witches and wizards celebrate it at Hogwarts for crying out loud!

  5. Merry Christmas

    After being up until 3 A.M. wrapping presents, my three year old Robbie beat me downstairs this morning. He completely ignored the Christmas tree that I worked on for hours snd the piles of presents under it and came to the computer and typed in "Thomas" or "PBS sprout". And I thought I was addicted to the internet. :-)

    My wife got home from her twelve hour shift at the hospital and Robbie and Tommy proceeded to tear into their presents.

    Seasons Greetings and Wishing you a Happy Healthy New Year, Sincerely, The Wilsons (Wayne, Peggy, Tommy and Robbie)

  6. My daughter and I saw my family last night

    Five of us were able to get together at my sister's in Farmington, CT - my brother in Chicago and my sister who now lives in North Carolina weren't able to be there, but the rest of us and my mom were there.  My nephew got engaged last weekend, so we drank a toast to the happy couple!

    Today was a relaxing day at home - presents this morning, and a nice ham for dinner with sweet potato pie for dessert.  Merry Christmas everyone!

  7. Cooking and eating frenzy

    Christmas was a day of quiet and intimacy in 2002, when my then-new wife and I were by ourselves with my five children elsewhere with their respective moms (two exwives, two divorce agreements). We established a tradition of a night out on Christmas Eve followed by a day of cooking a traditional Christmas goose for just the two of us.

    Over the years, as my children have grown up, it has become a thoroughly enjoyable cooking and eating frenzy. My oldest daughter and her fiance started coming three years ago, and my middle son now joins us (he moved in with us after Thanksgiving). My children seem to gravitate here, one by one, as they grow more independent.

    We celebrate the solstice, we love our traditional goose and trimmings, and we love adding more German side-dishes (my wife is Austrian) as we get more adventurous and have more people.

    This year, we eagerly await the arrival of my oldest son tomorrow and a really big snowstorm tomorrow night.

  8. A Varied Christmas/Holiday Season

    I begin my holiday season with a Democratic Holiday Party at my home.  As BMGers may know, it's pretty big.  The largest was approaching 225 folks.  I sometimes joke that the Democratic Party is my religion.  

    Then a small more traditional Christmas dinner the weekend before.   This year we had five people with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

    The big event is Christmas Eve.  We had twenty-six people last night.   Lasagna, peking ravioli and much more. We have the "Yankee Swap" that I mentioned in another comment.

    Christmas Day is low-key.  My son is living with us for the first time since 2006.  Husband, son and sister-in-law are it.  Meatloaf has become our tradition.  We played a word game.  It took me a while to get used to a smaller, low key holiday.  

    For us it is a secular holiday based around family and friends (with the Democratic Party thrown in).  

    • Jealous

      This year we had five people with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

      Sounds downright dickension in a good way! That said I would never trade it for my ma's meatballs and lasagna, though am eager to try it all the same.  

  9. As a $quot;red diaper baby$quot; who never celebrated Christmas, married to someone who always celebrated Christmas

    Growing up, my family did not celebrate Christmas nor did my parents believe religion was beneficial to society.  They felt and taught, in fact, that religion needed to be studied as it was a force that led to oppression and stifled positive social change and interfered with personal responsibilty.

    Therefore, this season is a challenge, as in my worklife, my experience has been that Christmas brings out the worst in people.  Parents who are divorcing all too often demand that courts decide where their children will be on Christmas.  Children in foster care mourn lost families, sometimes families that never really were.  Impoverished parents go without food to buy ephemera for their children, grieving they cannot spend more.  I don't like the American Commercial midwinter holiday at all - whatever it is called it has nothing to do with the story of a Messiah born in a stable, central to many religions including the Christian religion.

    What I typically do is cook, and have folks wash up on the small shore of our crowded house and make room for whomever it is my dharma to feed - this year we were 12 and my husband and I fed them all, including five people I had never met before invited by my husband, who remains generous and optimistic, even though he has been out of work since May of 2009.

    Then we clean up, put the leftovers and pots and pans away, and it is over.  If I lived alone, I would probably go cook at a shelter and be relieved to ride the tide of the holiday in - and out, leaving no footprints on the sand at all.

    We keep gift giving to under $50 per family member, just as no politician will receive more than $50 in a year from us going forward.

    • Great

      While I disagree with your parents it seems that you have found your own path to get meaning from the season I particularly like this part

      including five people I had never met before invited by my husband, who remains generous and optimistic, even though he has been out of work since May of 2009.

      Well sounds like even atheists can be saints every now and then!

      Seriously though wish everyone, regardless of faith or circumstance, knew how to give back like that. Unfortunately since I am out of school and without a true break I won't be able to join my friends at the shelter this year, but I will see what I can do back in Chicago. In my building there was a box for cans and mine were the only ones in it for the first month, downright shameful.  

      • jconway - I am not an athiest - though my father is

        What I "am" is a far more complex and private topic not amenable to email.

        NOT finding "American Christmas" to my liking doesn't mean I am an athiest, y'know.

        And our family feeds and houses folks in our small house ALL YEAR, not just for a week or two "during the season".

        • Fair enough

          Again I was praising not criticizing you and praising your good work in the spirit of the season. Take a breather it was a positive and friendly comment.  

  10. Merry Christmas, Kate!

    I don't really have any holiday angst, and just celebrate.

    Ethnic Scandanavian Christmas Eve dinner, followed by church and present exchange...Christmas morning, gifts from the Tomte in stockings (this year, their best gift was Porcupine claw jewelry), and Santa presents under the tree.  Then hang around the house, and later go for a drive and look at Christmas lights.  Wind up at a Chinese restaurant (Tiki Port this year), and then home.  Right  now, extended family is flipping back and forth on television between Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, attempting to create one narrative...

    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

  11. A season of light

    In my famly, we grew up in the church (Eastern Orthodox) and while I am no longer a believer, I still see Christmas as a celebration of light against dark - something you find in cultures and religions around the world.  Having had many of the same experiences in court as Amber Paw (5 years in a row representing a parent on Christmas Eve while the next day's visitation was being debated, taking time from my own family to supervise a Christmas day visit in Care and Protection cases) it only made me feel more passionate about lighting that candle against the dark, if only in the hearts of my family.  (Though we alwys make donations in this season as well to many causes that spread the light in many ways).

    My husband, who is Jewish, has become quite adept at putting up the Christmas tree (we celebrat his traditions of light against the darkness and celebrate Hanakkah as well.)  We put up and decorate the tree on Christmas Eve - when the kids were young it was a way of having something to do to ease the waiting.  Now it is just a lovely family gathering.  Our tree comes from our younger son's boy scout troop (here in Cambridge our troop has what they say Boy Scouts does not - girls and godless and we are part of the Boston Minuteman Council which forbids discrimiation including against sexual orientation).  

    And this year we have much to celebrate as on 12/23 we learned my older son was accepted at this first choice college - Clark University in Worcester. (YEAH).

    And we end the season with a New Year's Day Open House - sharing the light with 60 or 70 friends.

    Jamie

    • A 6 for your $quot;season of light$quot;

      That is absolutely the metaphor I embrace.

      I love the solstice, Sylvester (New Year's Eve) is coming, January is my favorite month, and I think "season of light" perfectly captures the essence of it (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere).

      Oh, and I totally love snow and snowstorms, it's why I moved north to Boston after growing up in a MD suburb of DC. My new snowblower is gassed up and ready to go, our home is well-provisioned, and I look forward to watching a few feet of white stuff come down while we enjoy being warm and comfy.

      A picture-perfect holiday for my family and me.

      Happy Sylvester!

  12. Sol Invictus

    I'm an atheist and I love Christmas because I love celebrations.  Having been brought up in America, that often means Christmas.  Were I raised in Israel, it would probably by Hanukkah, other holidays in other places.  From the music to the tree to the food to the gifts, there's all sorts of things to enjoy about Christmas that have nothing to do with the birth of a man named Jesus.

    Because after all, almost none of that day has to do with Christianity.  It's the season of the Winter Solstice.  Different cultures have tried to layer their new ideas over the Solstice with differing success (the Puritans banned celebrations of Christmas because it was so clearly a pagan festival).  Aside from the occasional religious service, is there really anything here that is Christian??  Pointsettias, mistletoe, evergreens?

    As for these atheists who don't celebrate Christmas because of its tiny sliver of Christian elements, that's their choice.  Same for the idea of Christians who carry a massive chip on their shoulder, trying to appropriate the day from anyone who doesn't share their particular religious conception.  Those who send evangelical cards, and donations to evangelical causes in the name of non-Christians.  Those who gin up a fake "War on Christmas" to find ways to exclude people from "their" holiday.  Those who can't imagine Christmas without whining about keeping Christ in it.

    I love Christmas too much to let extremist Christians try to pretend it is something it isn't -- a worldwide celebration rooted in millennia of traditions that are older and deeper than any new religion.

    sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  13. Tree and Festivus Pole this year.

    I love the music, actually, even though we, too, are atheists.  Daryl Stuermer's "Little Drummer Boy" is my favorite version of that song next to David Bowie's and Bing Crosby's.  

    Yesterday was a cooking frenzy as I prepared duck for most of the day--reduction sauce this and herb rub that.  At any rate, it turned out well and we were all pleased.  

    Today, however, no water as a water main broke in the center of town.  Grrr.  Not cool.  That means, however, that I can  surf the 'net, get caught up on what's going on around the world, and camp out on my Facebook page and TweetDeck, something I rarely have time to do these days.  Finding tremendous benefit in the Twitter phenom, as I have found a cadre of UK journalists to follow who have some interesting observations.  

    More seriously, while I do find Christmas more depressing since the death of my son's dad, we do manage to have a nice time and a good day.  When it's over, however, I am always immensely relieved, unlike many people who feel emptiness flooding back after the hubbub and people have gone.  

    At any rate, hope everyone is hunkered down.  All I need is some running water, and I'll be all set.   Enjoying some Mount Gay Eclipse and eggnog this afternoon.  Alt er bra.

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