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Traditions which sustain some, oppress me. Expectations based on (refinement of) previous experience I question. Christmas and other official holidays seem overshadowed by commercial interests. My sense of being alive in the world, awakened fresh each day, refuses to be overrun by trivial trappings of tinsel and glitter. Rather than the usual compromise, I completely dodged Christmas this year. Nope to parties where I would be obliged to eat, drink and make merry. Refusal to shop for presents, even worthwhile necessities, left me feeling free and at peace with this dark, quiet season. Space for meditation and naturally arising inquiry hearten me. I'm with Craig Reed (comments below) thinking that gifts which surprise at 'off times' are interesting and delightful.