Fox News, enough already. We are so, so tired of your paranoid, annual whining about your made-up "War on Christmas."
But there's a conflict going on for those who don't celebrate the holiday, who feel like outsiders looking through window panes at everybody else partying inside. It's an annual war within ourselves.
Who are Christmas outsiders? Jewish or Buddhist or Kwanzaa celebrators. Those having a tough time, perhaps separated from loved ones and choosing to taking a break from the whole thing. Or (gasp!) lots of atheists or secular progressives.
We outsiders don't carol or even get caroled and don't decorate trees with handmade family ornaments we collect over the years, and don't send out Christmas cards, and never want to sing the Jesus part of "Silent Night."
I like stockings hung by the chimney. Even carelessly. I find pfeffernuesse cookies left for Santa beguiling. But I'm Jewish, so I suppress Christmasy thoughts and tough it out.
For a few years when I was a kid my family double-dipped. We celebrated Chanukah, our minor December holiday made into a big deal with eight days of presents. But we also had a miniature plastic tree covered with blue and red balls. The little tree was guiltily hidden in a corner with a few presents below. It was Christmas verrry lite.
Anyway, if you're among the Christmas-conflicted, here are five ideas to bring tidings of comfort and joy during this season of others' cheer. You can fight back with your own little war.
Deny the whole thing. I turn off the TV and radio. I listen to non-Christmas songs. I read a good, long book about summer things. I think about everybody else gaining weight with Yule logs and eggnog and cookies. I eat salad and become the only person in the United States to lose weight over the holiday.
Go somewhere warm, where people don't celebrate. Best is South Florida, or southern California, filled with Jewish folks, palm trees and beaches. This is easier to deal with than being around firs, snowfields and steepled villages. You can easily forget about the season in 85 degree heat.
The Caribbean is another excellent fake Christmas spot. Or a ski resort, if you like cold weather and want to get away and stay busy far from malls. But you'll probably have to pay for these. Sure you don't have a grand-aunt in Florida?
If you don't have a relative or friend living in a hot spot, think about friends of friends. People in sub-tropical climes are used to this in wintertime.
Tip: Plane tickets are especially inexpensive late on Christmas morning, and if you get a ticket for day before Christmas and carry-on you might get bumped with a free ticket, which for some might be considered a Christmas present (but not for you because remember, you're not really celebrating). That's happened to me and because I didn't check baggage so I could take advantage of the opportunity. I don't care if I'm flying on Christmas Eve or Christmas.
Eat at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Eve or Christmas. You'll find it chock-a-block with other non-celebrators. And it's cheaper than going to China (which also is a fine option if you have the bucks and time).
Volunteer. You can tell a fellow worker you'll take over their work. Good karma, and maybe extra pay. Check out serving meals or collecting toys or helping others in some way over this holiday and into the New Year. Helping makes the Christmas spirit become real, even if you don't really celebrate it.
Befriend (or marry) someone who celebrates Christmas. This may be the best solution, offering much of the fun with none of the work, and minimum guilt. It's the hosts' Christmas, not yours. You're just observing the Mass. You're just sharing the turkey and plum pudding. Just be sure to bring your hosts really good Christmas presents -- no regifting. You want to be invited back every Christmas, as a tradition. Then it will be almost-real Christmas.
Virginia R. was my Christmas host when I was a young girl. I got to sleep over and share in her excitement on Christmas morning. Later it was a neighbor who lived in the home with Tudor trim and a huge tree with antique decorations.
And when I married a man in 2010 whose tradition had always been Christmas I figured I had finally arrived into the wonderful world of the full-out holiday. I could help him celebrate with a big tree and all the trimmings!
Except he just doesn't want to celebrate Christmas anymore. He wants to eat latkes and spin dreidels.