Here in Japan we’re well into Christmas Eve, and this isn’t precisely the Christmas I would have wanted: we have a tiny dollar-store tree, a handful of decorations (also from the dollar store), and now that Christmas dinner is done there’s not much more to do. My lady friend has already fallen asleep, so I’m sitting here with my wine wondering what comes next. And in my thirty-three years, despite all the traveling I’ve done, I’ve never missed a Christmas with my family until now, so I’m feeling more than a little blue about it.
I’m not a religious person (read: 100% agnostic), but as any folklorist will tell you, no two people engage with tradition in exactly the same way. That fact doesn’t devalue the tradition at all: it just helps it to be relevant to everyone who cares to participate in it. So while I can smugly (and correctly) say that there wasn’t a “Christ” in Christmas until Christians decided to put him there, long after the fact, I’m also happy to make room for their interpretations of the holiday (as long as they don’t breed intolerance, anyway). What really matters for me is taking time to enjoy the season, your loved ones, and some really good food.
So I and my wine will do our best to enjoy the evening together. While it’s all a bit melancholy, I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had and those yet to come. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, however you may choose to observe (or not observe) it.