Commentary: Why not pretend every day is Christmas day?

Christmas is a time to say, I love you; so says Canadian rock star Billy Squire. It's a season when bells will be ringing, according to Southern California's Eagles. Notably, it's the season when Bing Crosby and countless others have been dreaming of a little snow.

In short, as Andy Williams so smoothly pointed out, it's the most wonderful time of the year.

Yeah, there's shopping and the related traffic jams such as those that made getting around Bel Air on Saturday seem like something other than a wonderful time of year. Lately, we've had the largely manufactured political clash over whether to say merry Christmas, happy holidays, neither or both and, to a lesser degree, whether the notation X-mas is x-eptable.

On the culture conflict issues, I'm inclined to go with the Catholic nun who suggested to me that happy holidays was perfectly good because there are so many key holidays at this time of year: Christmas, Epiphany, St. Stephen's Day, the Feast of St. Nicholas and a few others in the Canonical Calendar, not to mention the secular and religious observances on the first day of the new year (Solemnity of Mary on the religious side, for those keeping track). Happy holidays, in my mind, is indeed an apropos greeting in this season of warm feelings and cold weather. On the X-mas side, to me the X, actually the Greek letter chi, has long been (and I mean for centuries) a shorthand abbreviation to denote the savior. X-mas is rather inelegant looking, but it is no more disrespectful than any of the other dozens of letters, notations and symbols that hold religious significance.

On the subject of warm feelings, cold weather and the modern wish for a white Christmas, I'd like to take this opportunity to make note of a few matters that may seem both obvious, and easy to make part of our lives.

It's been observed by religious scholars, and secular historians that the actual time of year when shepherds would be out tending their flocks is summer rather than winter. The Weather Channel forecast for Christmas in Jerusalem calls for rain with a high of 52 and a low of 43. In Bel Air, the forecast, by the way, is for sun with a high of 39 and a low of 31.

The long and short of it is that it's unclear if Dec. 25 of the modern (Gregorian) calendar has any true relationship to the birth of the savior. Maybe it is spot on, and the story about the shepherds involved a bit of poetic license. Or maybe the actual date of birth is marked by a different anniversary. At this late date, there's no reason to change our official observance.

There is a good reason, however, to be keenly aware that just about any day of the year could be the real Christmas. This, of course, brings me back to the Christmas season's best attributes, namely that it is a time of year when people seem more likely to hold the door for each other, to allow the driver of another car into an already crowded lane or to simply smile and wish a stranger merry Christmas, or happy holidays, or whatever.

Possibly we'd all be better off if we would keep expressing the same warm feelings and helpful attitudes that often come out at this time of year on a daily basis on the theory that any day could be Christmas day.

On that note, merry Christmas to all!

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