Skip to main content

The section of boxed holiday cards caught my eye.  “Hmmmm.  I will probably need some new ones, I thought to myself.  Let’s have a look.”  And so it began.  The sly flirtation with things Xmas.  The pristine and timeless snow covered villages, the perky birds perched on berry laden branches, the winter pine tree boughs.  Let’s immediately eliminate anything with religious implications.  It’s a narrow road to walk, but I’ve been covering it for decades now.  I move quickly, selecting possible candidates.  The recipients of these cards couldn’t possibly imagine the selection process in narrowing the field on contestants.

The greeting cards are more or less neutral uncharged territory, although one’s guard cannot slip allowing anything that is manger-like. That would be cutting it too close. The scenes that catch my attention are generally of nature or of the lavish decor of the movie Franny and Alexandre.  The images of an upscale Swedish Christmas dinner  in this film was all my overactive imagination could ask for.  How can you possibly argue against such good times??

There’s a huge secular/religious divide in the celebration of Christmas. It’s amazing how many Christians do not identify a Christmas tree with Christmas.  It’s more of a seasonal thing for them, I guess.  I wish I could convince myself, but as many years as I’ve tried, I can never override the symbolism.  Nor the regrets.  So many missed chances to shine!

As a child I’d go into the 5 & 10 cent store to admire the loose ornaments sitting on the counters.  I guess it probably made me stronger to admire them, but ultimately walk away from them.  Every once in a while, one ornament that was irresistible would end up within a bow tied on a gift.  So beautiful, I would tell myself.  I deemed this as acceptable, of course.  In recent years, I’ve found small branches whose forms allow me to hang all sorts of small and fascinating things.  Mostly Japanese good luck charms.

I once tried to bake a gingerbread house, but failed dismally.  I never tried again.  It seemed karmic.

My children occasionally put up a tree.  I stay quiet because it’s none of my business. Their life partners had trees as children and who am I to tell the otherwise?

My sister in law who lives in NYC has told us that she might find a discarded tree on the sidewalk near her house and bring it home for a second act to grace her apartment.  Personally, I found that weak at one level, but admired her bravery at another!

The Christmas themed sweatshirt can die a slow and tortuous death as far as I’m concerned.  I’ve never been remotely tempted.  Too obvious.

P.S.  For readers who might be uncertain about the history of Chanukah and what in the world its connection to Christmas is, I recommend reading the following article:


Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.