Having grown up a New England Yankee in the Puritan heartland, there’s always a part of me that feels Christmas to be an abomination. It was my Puritan ancestors who made Christmas illegal for a short time in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. And the Puritan strain in me thinks there should be only one holy day, and that’s the sabbath, and adding any other holy day is idolatry or worse.
But I’m also the product of several generations of New England Unitarians. Unitarian Louisa May Alcott created the ideal for a liberal religious Christmas in her book Little Women: a home-based family celebration devoted to selfless giving, guilt, and helping others. Unitarian Edmund Hamilton Sears created the ideal for a liberal religious Christmas carol in “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”: a song where the Christmas story is really a story about peace, social justice, and a twinge of guilt upon feeling that you’re not doing enough to make the world a better place.
So I both hate Christmas, and like Christmas. It’s no wonder that when Christmas Day rolls around, I’m ready to ignore the holiday and go out for Chinese food.