Folks, there's no "War on Christmas." Just ask those of us who don't celebrate the holiday, the outsiders looking through window panes at everybody else celebrating inside.
This is a confusing season for many, maybe you too. It isn't easy for those of us who never get caroled and who don't decorate trees with ornaments we collect over the years, and who don't send out Christmas cards, and never sing the Jesus part of "Silent Night."
I like stockings hung by the chimney. Even carelessly. I find pfeffernuesse cookies beguiling. But I'm Jewish.
For a few years when I was a kid my family double-dipped. We had a miniature plastic tree with blue and red balls hidden in a corner with a few presents below. We also celebrated Chanukah, our minor December holiday made into a big deal with eight days of presents. (It does make Jewish children feel better on Christmas morning.)
Lots of us are Christmas outsiders: maybe separated from loved ones, or Jewish or Buddhist or a Kwanzaa celebrator. Or maybe having a tough time and taking a break from the whole thing. Or atheists or secular progressives (take that Bill O'Reilly).
If so, here are five ideas to tide you over the holiday blues in relative comfort and joy.
Deny the whole thing. I often do this. I turn off the TV and radio. I put non-Christmas songs in my ear. 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 where people don't celebrate. Best is South Florida, or southern California, filled with Jewish folks, palm trees and beaches. Living in Miami is easier to deal with than being around firs, snowfields and steepled villages. You can actually forget about the season in 85 degree heat.
If you don't have a relative or friend living in a hot spot, try friends of friends. People in sub-tropical climes are used to this in wintertime. The Caribbean is another excellent fake Christmas spot. Or a ski resort. But you'll probably have to pay for these.
When I lived in New York I used to go down to Florida to visit my folks every Christmas vacation. Now that I live here in Miami, I'm the one getting visitors. And as long as it isn't more than a week, and as long as I know your names, I usually enjoy it.
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 in 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 anymore.
He wants to eat latkes and spin dreidels.