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Well, it's true that I've been going around grumbling that I hate Christmas this year - mostly because my partner has 6 siblings who have started marrying and having children, and it's been a stressful season time and money-wise and a bad time to figure out small gifts for dozens of people that will show them we thought of them each in particular. So there's that.

But generally, I like Christmas. Thanksgiving and Passover have more spiritual meaning for me, but there's something about Christmas, too, even coming from an anti-religion family. It's a time when we're expected to think about each person we care about in our life and do or get something special for them, at least as I've understood and celebrated it. It's a time to reconnect with my family and actually spend some time together without distraction. I celebrate with just my family, no extended family and not even my partner, who goes home to her family, and it's the only time we're together as we were growing up, repeating traditions that we established as children. It's the one time of year we're It's the only time of year my family stands around the piano and sings together. It's a time when we try to create something special for each other.

It was probably stressful for my mother when we were growing up, since money was tight and she wanted to do a lot for us, and for her that meant mostly spending money, and I wish she hadn't felt that pressure. But there was a deep pleasure for her in doing something a little extravagant and unusual for us, creating that sense of excitement. And there still is, in cooking the meal she thinks is important, in having us all there together. And now that we're older, it's not just her and my dad creating Christmas for us, but all of us creating it for each other and enjoying the feeling of giving.

It was so exciting to see all the presents under the tree this year, even though most of them were from me, my partner, and my sister, and most of them were for my dad and mom - maybe even more so because of this, certainly more satisfying. It was wonderful eating the duck my mom roasted, the bush noel and champagne we always have, and standing around the piano singing through the book of carols we've used forever late into the night. And although I miss my partner and feel a little empty without her, it is a really nice feeling to have things the way they used to be, or even better.

Sorry for the long post, but I felt like Christmas as it's evolved was getting a little overly hated-on. It's important to look outside your family and think about what other people are going through and doing things for them, but there's also a value in looking within your family and doing something special for each other and celebrating being together as well. Is that really so wrong?

Merry Christmas, everyone, however you celebrate it :)