Letting the Holiday Pendulum Come to the Middle

I like things in balance. I like moderation. I don't always eat in moderation, but I understand I'd probably be happier if I did. I know we can't always be balanced, of course, but sometimes the middle ground is a nice, mellow place to be.

As you know, I don't talk about politics, but if you asked me what I am, I'd probably label myself some sort of moderate. I think both extremes are unhealthy. When you start talking about diets where something is given up, I think moderation is a much more realistic goal.

Certainly there are areas where denial of something is for the best, where something like alcohol or cigarettes are completely harmful (alcohol is not completely harmful to most people, but to someone who can't control their intake, then it is definitely a serious problem).

Anyway, what am I rambling on about? Well, I was raised in a traditional dysfunctional christian household with Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Even after I shed the heavy dead albatross of religion and became a godless heathen, I still put up a tree, gave christmas cards and gifts, and had christmas dinners with family.

Then a couple of years ago I completely swung the other way. I ditched the tree and decorations, told people I'd rather just spend time with them during the holidays than exchange gifts or cards (thereby abandoning the stress, guilt and huge expense), and basically just went to family dinners (well, can you blame me? Good food should never be forsaken!)

But a friend's status update on Facebook a few minutes ago reminded me that maybe my little black cindered grinch heart is still beating after all. My friend merely said that he was getting ready to celebrate Festivus and I thought, "Oh, that sounds like fun. A secular celebration!" So I don't have to seem like such a scrooge. I can just say I celebrate something different.

So I looked up Festivus on Wikipedia and was reminded of the Seinfeld episode that made the holiday popular. I loved Seinfeld when it was on. And of course I remembered Festivus but had forgotten the details. It seems there are five main parts to the holiday.

It's celebrated on December 23 and is a "Holiday for the Rest of Us." So far I'm liking it! This sounds like my kind of secular holiday!

There's an aluminum pole with no decorations that you put up. Aluminum has a very high strength-to-weight ratio. But I got the clever idea that I could use a stalk of bamboo from my garden instead. It's also very strong and environmentally friendly!

There's a dinner, no particular food seems to be required. I can handle that! I like food.

During the dinner, right after the food is served, there is the Airing of Grievances. Now, I don't think I care for this central practice. I think in some ways it might be good to get your grievances off your chest, but I don't think doing that in an open forum is very appealing. I like to try to be happy when I eat.

Then after dinner there are the Feats of Strength. Some crying may occur. The feats of strength go on until the host is pinned to the floor. This doesn't appeal to me either. While I love to watch MMA on TV while I'm exercising, I don't want to wrestle with anyone right after dinner until one of us is pinned. I'm not one for rough-housing.

The Festivus Miracles. Whenever something mundane happens, declare it a miracle. Now this I love! And that in itself is an early Festivus Miracle! HA!

So, overall I like the holiday and think I might adopt a version of it for fun. It might be fun to bring it up over christmas eve dinner with the methodists and catholics we share this meal with. They have ridiculous rituals, namely instead of good food, we eat spaghetti with fish in the sauce instead of meat. That's crazy Italian catholic nonsense if you ask me.

So, since I have problems with Festivus, I kept looking on Wikipedia for other secular winter holidays.

Of course, there's the Winter Solstice, which I like. This year it's 6:38pm Tuesday December 21. I like celebrating the Cosmos like that.

Then I found the best holiday ever! Can you guess what it is?

It's Holiday! This is a vaguely defined holiday somewhere around christmas and hanukkah, with no rituals or formal practices. It's a Flying Spaghetti Monster celebration for Pastafarians. So if you say Happy Holidays, you're celebrating it. How easy is that? Now, I'm not a Pastafarian, but I do like them and have a soft spot in my heart for the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

And since I've been saying Happy Holidays for many years now (I have no desire to participate in christmas), I am already celebrating it!

And celebrating holidays together is a good thing, especially when good friends and family get together over delicious food and enjoy themselves. That's a tradition I can definitely get behind.

So Holiday and Festivus are two events, along with the Winter Solstice, that I can embrace and celebrate with my wonderful friends. And that's a nice, secular happy medium, if you ask me. :)

Tis the Season for Reason! :)


  1. We celebrate Yuletide. For us, this stretches from the winter solstice (our wedding anniversary, 21 years this year!) until January the 1st, thus encompassing the whole of the holiday period.

  2. We celebrate "the Holidays." Because of the beliefs in our extended family, we tend to celebrate all of the holidays, especially christmas & hanukkah. (You get more presents and food that way.)

  3. I like to take a Holiday whenever I can! Why wait for December something or other? :)

  4. That sounds great, Joules, and congratulations on 21 years! :D Happy Yuletide! :D

  5. Food and presents are always fun. Sounds like it works great for your family. Happy Holidays.. all of them! :D

  6. Right on, James! Happy Holiday! :D

  7. [...] considering celebrating something so as to not feel like such a Scrooge. As I read her post, “Letting the Holiday Pendulum Come to the Middle,” I couldn’t help but feel sad that she’s likely never felt the warmth of the [...]