It’s beginning to look a lot like…

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.

3 thoughts on “It’s beginning to look a lot like…”

  1. And you ignored the latkes in the fireside room.

    The Puritans also made Christmas (and Easter) illegal in England (though servants, apprentices and scholars were given the second Tuesday in each month for recreation to make up for the days they lost). Some of my ancestors at that time were Quaker and they felt even Sunday services, Puritan style, were a bit much (and being a bit noisier than later Quakers were quite inclined to tell the local ministers that).

  2. Dear brother — just enjoy the lights and the merriment. Have some Chinese food, some latkes, give away some of your belongings (ease that guilt), sing some carols, drink some spiked eggnog, and try to enjoy the spirit of things.

    Okay. Never mind. Be grumpy. Say bah humbug a lot. Growl.

    There? Now you feel better.

    Love, Me (your sister, who actually likes Christmas)

  3. Thank you for the reminder about Little Women and her gentle but powerful example on how to keep Christmas. I think generations of like-minded people have since associated this holiday with service to those less fortunate, in part because of that chapter and the girls’ discovery that the holiday has much more meaning when we serve others. We’re fortunate that our UU fellowship offers a lot of opportunities for that here.

    I grew up loving Christmas and all it entails, and was surprised to find as much meaning and satisfaction from the annual Solstice service we have. It’s ended up being what I had wanted to get from Christmas all along: peace, closure for the year gone by, hope and great plans for things to come.

    It’s my wish for you that you’ve found more hope than dislike this season.

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