From e-mail, posted with permission: Your story on PBW about Robert Frost was so sad. Do you have any happy memories of Christmas past?
Childhood, not really. We were orthodox Catholic, my grandmother always bailed, and the alcohol flowed like Niagara Falls. Dec. 26th was my favorite day, because I knew I had 365 days of freedom before I had to endure it again. When I became an adult, I was able to celebrate Christmas the way I wanted to. I either worked extra shifts so my married coworkers could stay home with their kids, or spent it alone reading, painting or writing. Both ways were absolute bliss.
That all changes when you have kids, but then your bad memories kick in and you make an extra effort to make Christmas special and fun for them. I've been extremely lucky that my ex never kept my kids from me at Christmas, but was willing to timeshare the holidays.
Despite the bad start, I never saw much use in being miserable during Christmas. For me it's a time of dwelling in quiet faith, showing a little joy and charity to the world, and doing what you can to make loved ones, friends, and total strangers happy. Even if you have to fake it now and then, they're worth it.