What I like about the holidays is simple: seeing old friends and family, and receiving Christmas cards, especially if they include photos of one’s kids. What I deplore is the commercialization and excessive, out-of-control behavior it produces.
I attended my first Italian Christmas this year where tradition is to serve seven fishes. I happen to like fish, but by 9:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve I was in a food coma. Of course, It didn’t help that before pre-fish I ate a bunch of Italian appetizers and had a few glasses of Chardonnay.
Then there was the pressured gift giving. Between my apartment building’s staff, business contacts and the long list of teachers, therapists and doctors taking care of Savannah, I was constantly stuffing money in envelopes and picking up bottles of wine.
Maybe those Buddhist monks are right. The only worldly possessions you really need are a robe and bowl.
Christmas my way would be to ask friends, family and business contacts that we not exchange gifts and instead make a joint donation to a worthy cause, like Save the Children. I like that the money can be designated for a specific purpose, such as a wheelchair or a year of healthcare. We then gather on Christmas Eve to drink champagne and smugly discuss how our $50 donation is helping save an entire continent of sick children.
Today, still trying to digest a month’s worth of h’orderves and wine, I’m grateful the holidays are almost over and I can stop stuffing myself and attempt to pay off my AmEx bill.