Has anyone asked you that question yet? “Are you ready for Christmas?” I have two daughters with birthdays in November. So there is no way I’m going to even think about Christmas until after their birthdays. When someone asks me at the start of November, if I’m ready for Christmas, I hold my breath and give them a certain look.
What does being ready for Christmas even mean? Is there a universal list that I’m supposed to tick off the tasks to get ready? If I don’t have everything on that list, does it no longer count as Christmas? Like the time when I bought an artificial Christmas tree because I looked in 6 stores and they had all run out of real trees already. (Living in the Caribbean we have real trees imported from Canada, but you have to order one in March!) More than one member of my family was horrified that I had “RUINED” Christmas.
Over the years, my daughters became vegetarian, so as well as a turkey, we had to have a meat free version for them. We got to the point where we had to have no fewer than 10 vegetable dishes. All of them were accompanied with the exclamation, “We have to have that at Christmas!” Similarly with the presents, I have made a rod for my own back by giving everyone too many presents. Is that really what Christmas is about?
Or is Christmas a season that we can celebrate with joy, regardless of the exact details? It is not our birthday after all! Can we encompass in this season of holidays, the fact that we are all celebrating different things? The tourists at our rental property come to celebrate Hanukkah, perhaps partly to avoid that question of “Are you ready for Christmas?”
I know in the States the expression “Happy Holidays” has been used for many decades. But those of us who are not American, and don’t live in the States, can still learn from our American friends. Certainly when I lived in the UK two decades ago it was unheard of to wish anyone “Happy Holidays.”
I’ve only ever been to a real American Thanksgiving Dinner once. And it was a large party, not a family dinner. But I have hosted them before, much to the surprise of my invited guests! I’ve no idea if I cooked the “correct” dishes, because everyone I spoke to had their own family traditions. My family obviously has no tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving for me to turn to. But what a wonderful way to be consciously thankful and positive. So I don’t mind admitting to this piece of cultural appropriation.
Next time someone asks me that question, I will ask them to define ready, because as far as I’m concerned “ready” is in our attitudes, not our to do lists. How do you know when you are ready for Christmas or the holiday you celebrate?
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