12/03/2006 02:03 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

How to (More or Less) Celebrate the Holidays

It begins in November -- just before Thanksgiving: A sneaky hint that

Like most sensible folks, you will ignore the question and
concentrate on the turkey, the stuffing, and the cranberry sauce. One
holiday at a time is quite enough.

Besides, we have just been through hectic weeks of election
campaigning, a suspenseful finale, and considerable confusion as we wait
for the new Congress to materialize. We are wrung out, exhausted, spent.

So naturally, we will put off Yuletide thoughts until, at least,
December 15th. At the earliest.

And then what will we do?

It will be too late to purchase, address, and mail five dozen
Christmas cards, so we will find a suitably bland, blanket greeting on the
internet and send it out to everyone with a few simple clicks.

Department stores and shopping malls will be mobbed, so we will pick
up a handful of gift certificates from the local Italian restaurant. No
problem with sizes, colors or style -- everyone loves lasagna.

The family dinner, invariably, will be miles away -- surely in
another city or even a distant state. In the first instance, the roads
will be icy or foggy or jammed; in the second instance, airlines will be
fully booked. What do we do? We stay put. We invite everyone back to
our house for dessert.

Now, you may accuse me of taking the easy way out: You will say I am
taking the "joyeux" out of Noel. Not at all. I am liberating you, giving
you a chance to rest up and prepare yourself for the arduous year ahead.
Because 2007 will be arduous. Every new year is tough, but think about
the next 365 days: We will have to find a way to pull our 140,000 troops
out of Iraq (and make amends for what we have done there); we will have to
raise, at last, the minimum wage; we will have to extend Medicare coverage
to 40 million Americans and bring down the cost of health care for
everyone; we will have to raise taxes on the overly-rich and give the
middle class a break; we will have to lessen our dependence on oil and buy
smaller cars that use biofuels.

And those are just the domestic challenges! Internationally, we will
have to restore our reputation and credibility with our one-time allies
and the rest of the world. We will have to join the World Court and sign
(belatedly) the Kyoto accords. We will have to help end, in any way we
can, the bloodshed and turmoil in Darfur and Somalia.

Now that you understand what lies ahead, you must certainly agree
that a leisurely December is imperative. Get a lot of sleep, take your
vitamins, have a few friends over for a cup of eggnog, kiss the one you
love on New Year's Eve, and make some resolutions, this time, that you can
really keep!