I found myself contrasting this experience with last Christmas at the same Stew Leonard's. Stews had a flawless system set up for choosing and then picking up Christmas trees, and for negotiating the holiday decoration shop. But the atmosphere of the shoppers was tense, competitive, cranky, to say the least.
So-called pagan holiday - happy people. So-called religious holiday - crabbiness in the extreme. Why, given how tense the run up to Christmas makes us, why do we do it to ourselves? Why do we load up December with such high, unreachable expectations? Why, even though we know we're going to stress ourselves to the nth degree, do we not do something to change that?
I'm beginning to see why Hallowe'en is my favorite religious holiday. And I wonder, as a priest, what I can engineer this year to support people in paring back on meeting all the expectations that the Christmas holiday brings.