Today is Christmas for many around the world. Today is day of relaxation for me, a Jew, enforced and reinforced by the closed stores, closed offices, abbreviated gym hours and limited non-Christmas TV and movie fare.
It is not a normal day, because it has all the good stuff — sleeping late, hanging with SOS and watching cartoons, going to a movie (thank G-d for movies and Chinese food) — but without a normal day’s stresses, deadlines and demands.
I could get used to Christmas. Although I must admit that the calm was, in fact, making me a little anxious. When is life so calm? Ah, eureka!! On Christmas, as long as you don’t celebrate the holiday.
Because, from the outside, it doesn’t look so calm for those who celebrate. Driving, flying, or riding in open sleigh, to get somewhere with presents that will delight the recipients, sing carols in the cold with matching sweaters, eat more even than on Thanskgiving and all, in time to sit down in front of the TV right before “It’s a Wonderful Life” starts. Whoa. Exhausting.
Sidebar: Just last year, I learned that in the song, “Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer,” Santa asks Rudolph to guide his sleigh. Having grown up in New York City and imagining a sleigh full of presents, I assumed that Santa wanted Rudolph to guard his sleigh. Oooooops. SOS was horrified that I lacked this basic social knowledge. (Now, let’s ponder that, but off-blog.)
There is something transcendant about this holiday that even a non-Christian can see. Throughout the twentieth century, this day carried the power to cause warring nations to call a day-long truce in the midst of battle. Christmas stopped the carnage of war for twenty-four hours. (Makes one think, if we can stop war for one day, then why not two days, and, then, why not forever?)
So, it is more than a quasi-relaxing day for Jewish neurotics. Because I don’t have to be a Christian to celebrate the message of this day:
Peace on Earth.
I just wish we all would remember that message every day.