I am, by nature, a cynical, awful person. I love horror movies and horror books and horror stories and horror in real life. I wallow in bad news and throw myself bodily into situations I know I’ll hate. When I hear there’s a hurricane coming, my eyes brighten and glitter and I ask, “How soon?” with a barely restrained glee. My pessimism is only limited by my imagination.
But my favorite time of year, my absolute favorite time, is Christmas. I love the lights on houses. I love the idea of Santa Claus. I love the music. I love the movies. I love stories that percolate to the top of the major news outlets this time of year about people getting together and giving to charity. I love the story of Christmas. I love the hope and good cheer and the attempts, for one month, of people to be decent to one another as a rule.
I think it’s important for all of us, at least once a year, to stop being such pessimistic jerks and say, have a merry Christmas. I say that as an atheist and as a non-Christian. Christmas is important. It’s about appreciating the people you love, whether they’re family or friends. It’s about getting together in the middle of winter and eating and drinking and sharing presents and laughing and having a good time.
It’s a holiday that started as the birth of the savior of all humanity*, someone who can save us from ourselves, so it’s a holiday about hope, about people maybe not ending everything in a terrible holocaust of violence and hate.
And I think, speaking as someone who spends a lot of time writing about murder and death and the scary things, that we can all use more hope.
I’m looking forward to the season and I hope you are too.
*Yes, I know it also started as a Roman fertility festival, but you don’t get points for being a know-it-all this time of year.