It’s easy for me to say xmas is just another day, because for me it’s mostly just a day to be waited out and gotten over with. But for the people closest to me, it can be very sad and lonely.
In one way or another, they’ve lost everyone important to them, and the day is an empty void. Like the proverbial unfortunate Dickens character, face pressed to glass, they longingly eye others gathered festively in the warmth of family and friends, feasting and opening presents. Never mind that much of that merriment is forced and artificial; it still hurts to be the one out in the cold, through no fault of your own. And our commercial culture doesn’t make it easier, with all the pressure and hype in your face. It’s a very hard day to ignore.
So I have mixed feelings about this day. Personally, it’s simple: enjoy a quiet Chinese meal out with family, while the feeding frenzy of last minute shopping swirls outside, which is what we did yesterday afternoon with my son and granddaughter and her friend. Other Jewish people (a real minority here) will be doing the same. Then we just hunker down at home, safe from all the drunks, and wait for it to be over for another year.
But I feel sad for those who have had their family and festivities yanked out from under them, and for the most part face this significant season alone. They’re like aliens that got left behind in the mad stampede. All your friends are doing their family thing, and the few places that are open are not much consolation. All you can do is find other refugees and do stuff together, or just sit it out.
I feel bad that I can’t compensate for the huge losses they’ve endured. All I can do is be here for them and provide a place of refuge, such as it is.
I hope each of us, in the spirit of inclusion and generosity that this holiday is supposed to embody, will give a thought to someone you know who may have fallen through the cracks of other people’s self-centered pursuits. If you’ve ever experienced pain and loss, remember what it felt like to be alone and forgotten, and pass on some kindness, especially today.
Here’s how it’s done, Jewish-style. Keep Tsingtao in Xmas! (Courtesy of Fulin’s Asian hospitality.) Sundown yesterday evening. Some strong martinis. You almost can’t tell the fire is fake!