I am one of those people who grew up in Christmas filled with tension. So when my wife told me she was Jewish I counted that as a plus. Knishes I learned about later and count them as a bonus for marrying a Jew, but Christmas is a holiday viewed from afar for me. That Christmas can be celebrated on palms and look absurd is a plus, so I there's more to like about Christmas in Key West.
My holidays I count Thanksgiving and Independence Day at the top of the list. The problem with Christmas is the expectations gap - it's a consumer holiday and if you fall short in consumption you feel like you are letting your family down with all the negative consequences. Christmas freaks me out.
Of course with my literal mindset I find it impossible to reconcile reality with myth. I slept through the Greek mythology classes, and I'm guessing most Americans did too as my wife expressed astonishment when she found out I knew the story of Prometheus and fire. But Christmas is not a discussion of facts about the Roman Census and history. It's a winter holiday (holy day).
It's the darkest time of year in the Northern Hemisphere so thinking of antipodeans enjoying an Australian beach on Christmas Day sounds crazy, so everyone yields to the King Wenceslaus image of cold and snow, Yule logs and all those pagan myths jumbled into the Nativity story in ways that make my autistic mind scream in confusion. Then I see everyone being stressed out at the happiest time of the year...
So what is Christmas? The way I figure it Christmas is whatever you want it to be. For me it's festive lights, friends round for dinner, a moment of no demands and no expectations.
The city looks prettier than usual and the wreaths on Truman, the lights here at Key West Bight they are all part if it. Good will would be nice but it seems in short supply when it's local equivalent -money - is scarce too. That's where the stress comes in.
I like a nice solid Christmas made up of absences: absence of gifts, absence of disagreements, absence of those people described so nicely in the Desiderata of our youth as "vexatious to the spirit." That's my Christmas and I wish you the same, in abundance.
I guess all that makes me a Festivus kind of guy. Happy Festivus everyone!