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My wife (Jewish, returned to Judaism via Jewish Renewal) and I (Unitarian Universalist) have spent the last couple of late Decembers escaping to Mexico or South Beach to escape the din of commercial Christmas. But in truth, neither the Chanukha myth & ritual nor the two Christmas myths and the ritual -- even in their best songs, decor and comportment -- do anything for us. Oh, we like the playfulness of the lights (mostly) and the smell of evergreens. But that's overshadowed or over-noised by all the rest, and this year an escape is not in the cards.

So we're in the process of inventing our own celebration, sort of in self-defense. I mean, Christmas always comes on gangbusters. We're still putting it together, and won't have it together in time for this year. At this point we're looking at nine days of special awareness (because it's not 8 days of Chankah nor 12 days of Christmas), happening somewhere around the solstice, and a special meal to which we invite 1 to 3 friends to fete one or all of them and give them a special gift in thanks for the gift they are in our lives, or the gift they are in the community.

And that's as far as we've got. But it's kind of fun to let this alternative personal winter festival emerge and take shape.