It's not my holiday, but I've always enjoyed it. I actually like the bustle of Christmas shopping, especially when there are Salvation Army Santas ringing their bells. At school in the fifties, carols were part of our curriculum and I remember the words to them all. Once my class went caroling near my house where homes were lavishly adorned with lights, statuettes, and even a creche scene in a garage with live animals. The holiday movies are a treat, especially It's a Wonderful Life and George C. Scott's Ebenezer Scrooge. And Handel's Messiah never ceases to surprise me with its charm and grandeur.
As long as I can remember, the faithful have deplored the demise of spirituality at Christmastime. The truth is that this holiday, which before Dickens was just an occasion for drunkeness and violence, is more spiritual than ever. For those of us who find inspiration in aesthetics, Christmas is the world's best blend of art and faith. And if we do not believe in a saviour, we can find holiness in childhood, which is what Christmas honors for us all.
Granduca Madonna by Raphael, 1504. Click on the picture for a closer look.