Happy Merry Christmas Holidays

Rockport Christmas tree

Christmas Tree, Rockport, MA

So, it’s that time of year.

Actually, for some reason, I’m way ahead of schedule, which feels weird… and a little unsettling. I got the cards out a few days earlier than I normally do, and aside from gift cards and stocking stuffers, all my presents have been gotten and wrapped. I keep wondering what I’ve forgotten.

A “Holiday” Tree?

There was a bit of an uproar this year in Providence when the mayor insisted on lighting the official “Holiday Tree.” It seems to me there’s enough stupidity on both sides that I had to say something.

First of all, as a general matter, I can’t get worked up about a “war on Christmas”. I’m not religious, but I do enjoy the secular parts of the holiday. Vienna Teng has a wonderful song on Warm Strangers called “The Atheist’s Christmas Carol” which is pretty apt. On the other hand, there are people who don’t observe it, or who observe other holidays, and I see no harm in using a more general greeting if you don’t know enough about the other person to be sure they celebrate Christmas. I make my own Christmas cards, and I usually have two versions of the card—one that says “Merry Christmas”, which goes out to most people on my list, and one that says “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”  that I send to people I’m either not sure about, or who I know don’t celebrate Christmas.

That said, I think it’s disingenuous to be referring to a “Holiday Tree”. Trees just aren’t part of Hanukkah. The Christmas tree is a distinctive part of the current day Christmas celebration, and to call it something more generic, isn’t being respectful of other traditions, it’s just being politically correct. In fact, I wonder if it’s disrespectful: disrespectful of Christians, who feel their traditions are not being recognized, and disrespectful to Jewish people, who sometimes feel they have to fend off the “Christmas-ization” of Hanukkah.

For what it’s worth, our own Christmas tree gets decorated tonight.

Christmas Season Bike Ride

One personal annual tradition I’ve observed sporadically is a bike ride along the Minuteman Bike Path during the Christmas season. I started it by accident, one Sunday in December several years ago, when I stupidly forgot that the sun sets around four in December, and didn’t leave the house until around 2:30. By the time I reached Bedford, and was heading back, it was already getting dark…and found to my delight there were Christmas lights at several points along the path. It’s a hard thing to time right — one year I started about half hour too early, and didn’t see anything.

This year, I seemed to hit it right, but there weren’t many lights as I remembered, and I froze my feet off. So much for that annual tradition…