Merry Christmas! I hope you're not offended that I used the C-word, but in my defense, I am not a particularly religious holiday observer. I attend Christmas Eve church services when we are at one mother's house or another, but this holiday has always been about presents, decorations, family, and goodwill in my book. You show me a day when every store in America is closed,* and I will show you a secular holiday.
I suspect Christmas gains at least some of its power from its ties to the winter solstice and the beginning of a new year. Combining the message of peace and goodwill with the reflection and renewal of year's end creates a potent cocktail of emotion. Evergreen foliage, drinks made from eggs and cakes full of fruit, red, green and gold color scheme -- it's a Technicolor holiday for sure.
Life is a chain -- a line made of circles -- and this is the time when one link is closed and the next begun. Not coincidentally, December and January see more funerals than any other months of the year. (The most births are in August.)
There is comfort in the constancy of the seasons, and a reminder that history repeats, or at least rhymes. Boxing up an old year and opening a shiny new one flavored with Christmas cheer brings a sense of relief and hopefulness, despite the fact that exactly nothing has changed except the date. Our traditions fortify these feelings.
I haven't written as much this year as some others, either professionally or here. I have always been a cyclical journalist, so I am neither particularly surprised nor distressed. Writing for me is inherently reflective, and I have been looking forward and outward this year, acting more than thinking. My career change to academia inspired a great deal of self examination. I feel now like I am finding my identity, and steadily becoming a more competent professional me. My home life is as pleasant and stable as it has been at any time in my life. In short, I am currently too happy and boring to have much to write about.
But life is change, and this year is likely to see its share. A number of potential disruptions are floating about, personally and professionally. Career opportunities, home projects, unexplained rashes. I may buy a new car. And there will be the unexpected gifts from the fates. The quiet times never last forever, partially because I get bored. I try to savor the constancy while it lasts.
I hope you have a great holiday season and a wonderful 2015. Let's be careful out there.
* With the exception of Asian restaurants and movie theaters, of course.