Part I

Don’t look now, but Christmas is here. It’s right around the corner, whether you like it or not. It’s a big jolly guy full of presents, food, last minute shopping and a healthy dose of exhaustion.

Let’s face it: Christmas is tough. On the one hand, it’s a great holiday — a mid winter festival of lights, carols and gifts. On the other hand, it can get expensive and stressful. It’s also a benchmark against which to judge a year’s worth of joys and troubles. And it’s a time to think about charity and whether you’ve really done enough. There’s time with family and time with family.

It can get exhausting just thinking about it all. And perhaps that’s part of the problem. All the planning and shopping, the guilt and the stress do an awful lot to get in the way of what should be a good time.

I could expound here on the virtues of taking it easy, of simplifying and getting back to the real meaning of Christmas. But none of that will really be of any help to anybody. And giving advice is not something at which I excel.

So, no matter what you’re doing, whether you’re in charge of the ever-expanding Christmas card mailing list or of securing a gift for impossible Uncle Al, who seems to have everything and likes nothing, just enjoy it. There are an awful lot of people out there who would like to have your problems. Relax. It’s Christmas. And it will all be over soon.

Part II

I do want to touch on something else. A lot is made these days about how we comport ourselves now at the end of December. We worry about saying Merry Christmas. We listen to pundits bray about a “War on Christmas” and get bent out of shape when the guy at the door at Walmart says “Happy Holidays” or when a town in Virginia or New Mexico changes its “Christmas” parade to a “Holiday” parade.

This week, NPR’s Nina Totenberg found the need to apologize when she offhandedly referred to a “Christmas party” in a hypothetical comment /example about corporate budgets.

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve gone around the bend when it comes to Christmas vs. Holidays. As editor of the Chestnut Hill Local (a position of debatable influence) I’d like to call for an armistice in the “War on Christmas.” The word holiday is not beachhead on all of Christendom. And using the term Christmas is not necessarily a wall of exclusion. Let’s enjoy all of the holidays together.

Part III

Have a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday.

Pete Mazzaccaro

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