The other night while I was getting a patient ready for bed, she flipped the channel on the TV to one of those Hallmark Movie Channel Christmas flicks. You know the ones, the overly sappy love story with the slightly religious feel-good message about change, growth and the meaning of the holiday and life in general. Secretly, I kinda like 'em. Laugh if you want, just keep in mind that I'm likely bigger than you.
Anyway, in this movie there's this horrible shrew of a woman who rails against the commercialization of Christmas, saying how much better she is and her family is than that, how they spend Christmas on missions in Mexico or Botswana, or some other poor nation doing good deeds, and how dare this school have her daughter join a choir and sing songs. Christmas is about the love of Christ, she said. It was a particularly annoying diatribe that did what it was probably supposed to do.
While watching this, the brain/mouth filter switches off and I launch into my own speech about the commercialization of Christmas. The fact is, people like stuff. Especially in wrapping paper. There's the act of unwrapping stuff which makes people feel good and makes people feel like the person that went through all the trouble of putting it together really cared. Christmas is supposed to be about love, about togetherness, about letting the people around you know how invaluable they are to you, regardless of your religious affiliation. That is why we give the gifts, why we sing the songs and roast the chestnuts and drink the eggnog. Well, that and because eggnog is awesome.
I know that the original intent is to celebrate the birth of Christ, but when did they have pine trees in the desert? I think we should embrace the spirit of what Christmas has become, where we open stuff in pretty paper from people who took the time and care and effort to wrap it. Where we eat terrible fruitcake, and gingerbread cookies because they make us feel good and connected to the people around us. Where we stuff our faces and tell good stories with family and friends that we may or may not see for another year Where for one day, and by extension the six week stretch that precedes it, we're not so focused on our differences, but our commonalities.
And then, as I finished the set-up on my patient, I realized I said this out loud. She looks at me and smiles, and says "You should write that down."
Embrace your family. Your friends. Have a drink. Smile, laugh and sing songs. Enjoy shredding that wrapping paper. It is one of the few pure joys we have. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Festivus to us all!