Have a nice Christmas — but not too nice.
I know there are many of you who are hoping and working for a Christmas tomorrow that is just the best ever. More presents that you’ve ever seen in one place will be under the biggest tree you’ve ever had. More food than you’ve ever eaten will be served to the biggest crowds of friends and relatives who ever have assembled under your roof. And may it all come true.
But it also could take you longer to clean up afterward than ever before. You will gain weight, your blood sugar is likely to go up, and visions of big credit card bills will begin to dance in your head.
That latter problem will return to haunt many, which is a shame. Somehow, over the decades, Christmas has turned into a celebration of wild and often unnecessary consumption, unfettered in many cases by good sense. We are judged by the presents we give, and also by those we get. Present-giving becomes almost like a tournament; stress levels run high. Instead of the holiday being holly jolly, for some it is clouded by depression. When it becomes difficult or impossible to summon up an attitude of cheer, one heads for the stores in hopes of being able to shop oneself into cheerfulness.
The Puritans in the 17th century made it illegal to celebrate Christmas because it was thought that the pleasure — in some cases riotousness — of celebrating interfered with the solemnity. So it might have been had not Pope Julius I declared in the 4th century an official date for celebrating Christmas that coincided with Roman and pagan celebrations of the lengthening of days after the winter solstice. Soon, not even the Puritans could hold off the celebrations.
Here is the best rule I can remember for celebrating Christmas: “Have as joyful a Christmas as you want — and as solemn a Christmas as you may want, as well.”