Holidays just aren’t what they used to be |

Holidays just aren’t what they used to be

Somewhere along the line I lost my enthusiasm for the holidays. I don’t know if it has to do working so many of them or just growing up.

Some would argue I have not grown up, so that cannot possibly be the reason.

I actually think much of it has to do with the commercialism of it all. The holidays have lost their true meaning. Thanksgiving is OK, but let me tell you people tend to freak out a bit when they learn they just invited a vegetarian over for a turkey dinner.

There are the tiresome jokes about a tofu turkey — which I have never eaten. As with most meals, there are plenty of side dishes. I have never had a problem filling up on bread and wine.

For many years while I was growing up, Thanksgiving and Christmas were not celebrated on their designated days. Two of my sisters were in the medical profession, and much like the newspaper business, holidays become another work day.

We got around to celebrating the holidays within a week of when the calendar said they were. It really was no big deal. And so the tradition continued when I landed my first newspaper job back in 1988 at the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Fourteen years later some things haven’t changed. I had Thanksgiving off. I’ll work Christmas and New Year’s Day, plus the eves. And it’s OK. It means others get the day off.

I have always hated having Thanksgiving off when it meant I had to return to work on Friday. I saw the people in my office scrambling to get their work done just so they could have one day off and then come back the next day.

Selfishly, that is part of the reason I opted to work Christmas and New Year’s. I didn’t want to have a day off in the middle of the week. I didn’t want to drive to see my sisters in Chico or Redding for one day, my parents will be at my other sister’s in Minnesota — so why have the day off?

And then there is the whole Christmas thing. I was baptized Presbyterian and raised as such. But I’m having trouble figuring out why we make such a fuss over of Christmas, why we give gifts, why we cut down trees, why we stress ourselves out.

Even my mother, who is the head deacon of her church, cannot explain the gift giving thing other than to say it’s a time to show people you love that they are important. But she cannot explain why we do this on Christmas, nor can other devout Christians.

I think birthdays should be reserved for this. Why not show the people we love that we love them on their special day? Why on Dec. 25?

I have not had a tree in several years. I have enjoyed decorating them and think they make all homes festive. But clearly pine trees were not something Jesus and his followers had anything to do with. Is it that we don’t have a manger so we need someplace to stash all those presents?

I can get into the baking thing, but this is something I like to do year-round. And sitting on Santa’s lap still sounds like a good idea — asking some jolly man to grant me all my wishes and to stuff my stocking.

I talk to friends who are dealing with crowded stores; more gripes than oh what fun I had. I see the money spent on decorations and then read about people who are less fortunate than me.

Good will to all men. What happened to that sentiment?

— Kathryn Reed is managing editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. She may be reached at (530) 541-3880, ext. 251 or via e-mail at

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