Jerome Christenson

Some people aren’t happy unless they’re not happy.

And come the holidays, those folks are at their happiest.

Oh yeah, on Sunday we busted through the Advent barrier and we’re all barreling down on Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve and, lest we forget it, Christmas.

Not to mention a few lesser noticed observances such as the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe and Tim Hatfield’s birthday. Heavens to Betsy, throw in the winter solstice, Druidic Yuletide and Saturnalia and the month of December fosters a sore spot or two for every kook and curmudgeon on your list.

Now I’m not talking about a latter-day Ebenezer Scrooge here. Oh, no, you ask these folks and they’ll swear they don’t have a Grinchy bone in their bodies. They’re all for hall decking, dreidels and ho-ho-ho … so long as we’re celebrating the proper holidays in exactly the manner of which they approve.

And when we don’t — and, you know, we never do — that’s when their fun begins.

It’s started already. According to the good and righteous guarding the right flank on the Bethlehem front, the first shot of the annual War on Christmas has been fired. Across the lips of an overworked, underpaid, Black Friday stressed Walmart checker bagging tinsel, toffee and discount peanut brittle came the seasonal epithet, “Happy Holidays!”

Twinkly lights blazed in outraged eyes, the defiant challenge was laid down, “It’s MERRY CHRISTMAS to YOU,” and the offended bustled off in a wake of grumbles and harrumphs to dispatch another angry protest to the Bentonville poohbahs who will likely reply with a form letter apology and coupons good for 10 percent off the next purchase.

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But the honor of the Magi was upheld and heaven knows we dast not forget the reason for the season; which of course is …

Different for everybody.

Yeah guys, we’re not all Christians here. Heck, according to some Christians — most Christians — aren’t Christian enough to make the apocalyptic cut. But it’s not that folks who don’t share their views are out to blow out the candles on Jesus’ birthday cake, they’re just going to a different party.

And since heresy ceased being a capital crime quite some time ago, that ought to be just fine.

And for most folks, it is. Here in the north where the December days are short and the cold is deep, a healthy dose of nog and fa-la-la a welcome break from the sleet and drone of the snowblower. At year’s end we’re all in the mood for a party — if the year’s been good, to celebrate; if not, to celebrate that it’s over — and we get a fresh start with a new calendar.

Oh, time was when they were all Lutheran over in Spring Grove, the whole East End prayed in Polish, and we were pretty much all white as Wonder Bread.

That was the world of my childhood, but I’m not a child anymore and that world is different too. No, I won’t say it’s necessarily better — although in many, many ways it is. Different doesn’t mean we’re on our way to hell in a handbasket — or any other means of conveyance — it means that our horizons may have expanded a bit, our neighborhood has grown larger, we’ve come to need to understand, appreciate and respect people who aren’t entirely like us and we’ve come to share our lives and make our communities with them.

And celebrate our holidays together. Each as they see fit. Each with joy and community spirit, all coming together to be together in peace, with goodwill toward all. To be happy. Together.

That’s the reason for the season. The holiday season. Have a happy one.

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