What Makes it the Holidays?

I love that there are so many holidays at this time of year. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Solstice… and probably some more that I just don’t know about, too.

Me? I celebrate an entirely secular Christmas. I call it Christmas because that’s what I grew up calling it, and because it’s easier to just call it Christmas than entirely buck the tide, and every twice in a while it really isn’t worth it to me to buck the tide quite so hard. It’s secular because, well, my personal philosophy of the world doesn’t happen to include a godhead. That’s me. I don’t ask anyone else to stop believing what they believe, and I completely respect the religious beliefs of others. I just don’t happen to share them.

And yet the thing that makes it the holidays for me each year is the day after Thanksgiving when I pull out my Christmas music and put The Clancy Brothers’ Christmas album on. Their boisterous rendition of Jingle Bells in Gaelic gets the holiday ball rolling for me in a way that nothing else quite can. The combination of raucous celebration and almost-but-not-quite maudlin reflection on the birth of Jesus grounds me, despite my lack of religious faith.

Why? Because of the way it makes me think of Christmas when I was growing up. That album was central to my family’s Christmas from the day it came into our home, shortly after its release. When I play it, I smell the Douglas fir trees of my childhood, and I can hear my father in the kitchen baking cookies. I can see my mother patiently creating new decorations for the house to go with the theme she’d picked for the party that year. I feel the anticipation of all those lovely packages under the tree. I feel warm, cosy, and entirely protected.

Christmas is different for me now. Oh, there’s still a Douglas fir tree, and it bears many of the old family ornaments. But the cookie factory is no more, and the tree is usually pretty much what I do for decorations. Mr. Twistie is uncomfortable with being given much, so his presents usually go under the tree on Christmas Eve, and he puts off opening them as long as possible.

But I still have The Clancy Brothers and their cheery outro of:

Bottles of whiskey and bottles of beer

We wish you all a happy new year!

So I find myself wondering, what holiday do you celebrate at this time of year, and what gets you in the holiday spirit?

And whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you one filled with happiness, prosperity, and good health.

3 Responses to “What Makes it the Holidays?”

  1. AnthroK8 December 19, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    Twistie, Ramadan this year was in the month of August. The big Muslim holiday close to Christmas et al this year is Ashura.

    Dates of Muslim holidays are determined by the lunar calendar, which means they move relative to the solar calendar used to determine Christian holidays.

  2. Twistie December 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    My mistake, AnthroK8! And my apologies to anyone I might have offended with my goof.

  3. AnthroK8 December 22, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    Live and learn! I knew Ramadan was in the late summer but couldn’t remember when exactly, so had to check myself. Thankfully, Professor Google is good about stuff like that.