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Driving Christmas Home

December 25, 2013

Not everyone is merry today. And I’m not talking about the significant population of the world that doesn’t celebrate Christmas.

Really, I’m thinking about those who do observe the holiday, yet to whom it brings little pleasure. Some are lonely. Some are surrounded by family, but would rather be alone. Some are surrounded by their family, yet still feel alone.

Given how much agita surrounds Christmas and the holidays, I wonder how many people are truly merry. Perhaps we greet people with a, “Merry Christmas” not because the holiday is innately joyful, but because so many people are sad around this time of the year, we try to give some active encouragement towards happiness. It could go a long way to explain the en masse retail therapy that has come to be synonymous with the Christmas season.

Of course, all of this is easy for me to say, since I have no expectations for the holiday. But sometimes it takes an outsider to point out what’s hiding in plain sight. For me Christmas is just like any other day. Well, maybe not entirely.

Today I’ll be driving from Princeton to rural Pennsylvania, somewhere between the three once great cities of Johnstown, Altoona and Bedford.

I suppose in theory we could have traveled the day before Christmas and gotten to the family farm in time for a relaxing Christmas around the house. But traveling on Christmas is a tradition for the Fussies, and traditions–much like habits–can be hard to break.

The tradition began back in California when we were flying across country during this time of the year. Flying on Christmas Eve was nuts. Airports were packed with frenzied amateur travelers and tickets were expensive. Alternatively, flying on Christmas Day was a joy. The airports were empty. There was room for stretching out on the long flight. Sometimes there were even free drinks offered by the flight crew.

There are no such benefits on the Pennsylvania turnpike. I don’t even know if there will be any places to eat in the rest stops along the way.

If there is an emergency, I’ve found a Chinese restaurant in Mechanicsburg, PA that’s open on Christmas. So we can always pull off there. I would say that we could hang out with the other Jews at the Chinese restaurant. But I don’t know for a fact if there are any Jews in Mechanicsburg.

The roads should be fairly empty, as most people will be spending time with their families. Except for those who go with their families to the movies. I’ll probably never understand why movie theaters are one of the only open businesses during Christmas. Maybe next year, some enterprising retailer will find a way to capitalize on Christmas returns by being open on Christmas day.

Don’t say it’s impossible. They used to say the same thing about Thanksgiving day. The truth is that not much is really sacred, and the things once considered to be profane aren’t really that bad any more.

My goal here isn’t to be a downer. I really do hope you are able to enjoy a little time off. But know that if the joy of the season is eluding you, you are not alone. The good news is that if you have a few days off, you could always try this ingenious solution from Buk. Man, I love this guy.

The year is almost done. Soon it will be time for reflection. But for now, I’m going to live in the moment.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 26, 2013 1:12 am

    You are in a bit of a funk here, Profussor. Most people don’t say “Merry Christmas” ironically. It’s a fun day to give and receive and visit with friends and relations and I, personally, am really enjoying my new train set.

    Also, there are definitely Jews in Mechanicsburg. Well, if there are, they’ll definitely be at the Chinese restaurant.

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