Of course, I do have a friend with whom I exchange Epiphany presents each year but this is not because of some spiritual dictate. It is a simpler, quieter time when we have time to carefully shop for each other's gifts and have a quiet, unhurried time to exchange our tokens of friendship.
In our church, we don't sing Christmas carols during the month of December; instead we focus on little-known-or-sung Advent music. According to our Reformed rules and regulations, Advent is a time of watching and waiting. So, we can't sing carols until Christmas Eve and for a couple of weeks after. I am sure this is politically correct in someone's book, but to me, it's kind of like eating leftover turkey in every size, form and shape for the weeks after Christmas dinner. I used to look forward to the month of December because we would be leading up to Christmas with music that all of us could sing. I directed a play at the community theater several years ago that included a passel of children and I picked out one of the familiar carols for them to sing. Unfortunately, "0 Little Town of Bethlehem" was unknown to them.
I sound just like the crotchety old lady I swore I would never become. I realize that it is all a matter of one's perspective about the proper way to celebrate the holidays. I remember when my children were little and my 4-year-old son would take Baby Jesus out of the crib and put him on top of one of the camels. My daughter, who was a wise and worldly 8-year-old, would berate him for such an act. If she had known the words, she would have called it desecration or heresy or blasphemy. However, my son said that Baby Jesus was tired of lying in that crib and would rather ride on the back of the camel. And from a boy's perspective, he was probably quite right.
Another thing we have found to fuss and fight about this year is whether we can still wish others a "Merry Christmas" or if we would be more inclusive and confine our greetings to something like "Happy Holidays" to cover all faiths. After a great deal of thought, I have come to the conclusion that if it comes from the heart of what you believe and is given in friendship from one to another, the actual words are not very important. So, from my White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant background to you, whatever-and-whoever you may be, Merry Christmas and all the joy and love of the season.
Katherine E. Orton is a free-lance writer living in Danville.