" … each celebrating a holiday called Good Old What's It's Name."

Think of a holiday, any holiday, and a set of standard images might come to mind: candles for Chanukah, witches and black cats wearing witch hats for Halloween, a turkey wearing a Pilgrim hat for Thanksgiving, Santa sipping a Coke® next to a decorated tree for Christmas. We all know the memes. Interestingly, though, none of us ever experience any holiday as portrayed. We identify with the iconography even though our family does things a little differently. Maybe we're a ham instead of a turkey family, or we celebrate Christmas without Santa's haunting presence, not even exchanging presents, certainly not boughten stuff. Each family detours from the advertised standard such that each collective holiday becomes a set of extremely personal experiences. Some open presents on Christmas Eve, others on Christmas Morning, and still others on Epiphany. I dare say that the majority of Yuletide celebrants would never self-identify as Christian, which seems fine since Christians kind of swiped a pre-existing pagan celebration for their own, anyway. Each unique form of celebration might well elicit a single common spirit, though, and maybe that's what we each celebrate, whatever the form.

Me? I observe HollyDave's, a uniquely personal end of the year holiday. It's sort of Christmasy and kind of Chanukahey, a little bit pagan yet hosting ample silent, solemn stillness.
I pray for snow and world peace, write a pile of fresh paeans to the new born king while firmly affirming my deeply democratic ideals. (New born kings are hardly ever any real problem. It's after they grow up and start wearing crowns that they turn troublesome.) I play my pile of holiday tunes until I swear I'll never listen to even the best of them ever again. I try to avoid dropping in anywhere, respecting that even self-respecting families appreciate being left alone to celebrate as they will. Nobody really needs my fresh face dropping in out of any chill just to chill in the shadow of their tree and complain about their football fantasies. Each family celebrates its own eccentricities first, and should.

My parents named me David, which means 'beloved,' not Dave, which means 'can I check that oil for ya?' People who don't know my preference employ the colloquial form 'Dave' unwittingly, believing, I suppose, that they're inducing an inviting informality, an endearment. I'm okay with that but I hardly answer to Dave, and not only because I probably won't be able to check that oil for you without you showing me how. I join the Roberts who don't answer to Bob, turning my head to see who you must be speaking to when you call me Dave, except during the HollyDave's. I admit to not really being myself during the season. I feel more magnanimous than I might in July. My general mood might even border on jolly, though I'm not immune to the seasonal affective disorder going around amid the Solstice gloom. I fully acknowledge that Holly remains one bastard of a plant with poison berries and sharp spines whose pricks easily turn infected. It's the damnedest symbol of a season ever adopted. It sure looks good, though.

Bless everyone who refuses to keep up appearances this blessed season, for mere appearances too easily damn the whole affair. Nobody really cares how many inflatable snowmen frolic on your front lawn or how many kilowatts of coal fired power plant you direct onto your eaves. The Muse, allergic to evergreens in the confines of the house, decorates a bottle brush artificial tree, which seems to drop just as many needles into the carpet as could the genuine article. The spirit grows merry and bright anyway, eventually, and whatever your family calls it, it sometimes turns white and frosty. The dust comes off the old traditions and at some time before epiphany, someone's likely to experience at least a brief bout of the old lumpy throat. Giblets might even make their semi-annual appearance, along with their old traveling companion mince pie. Some whose hearts we long for will spend the whole season far, far away and a familiar old movie should manage to flicker in on the background TV. You watch your football. I'll write about sleighs I've never ridden on, each celebrating a holiday called Good Old What's It's Name. Have a joyous one, anyway!

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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