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COMMENTARY: Here come the holidays

It’s that time of year when people will sleep in tents for days just to get a video game console, walk over a fallen shopper to get a television, or spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need, just because there’s a sale.

It’s the time of layaway, extended credit and no money down. It’s no finance charge and open 24 hours.

It’s Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanza. It’s Christmas trees and menorahs and celebrating the fruits of the harvest. It’s Scrooge and Charlie Brown and Santa. It’s “Jingle Bells” and “Momma Kissing Santa Claus” and the “Halleluiah Chorus.” It’s that “Miracle On 42nd Street” and “White Christmas” and “The Bells Of St. Mary’s.”

It’s opening gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning and the lighting of the menorah, and the spinning of the dreidel – and a partridge in a pair tree.

I don’t understand exactly what it is we are supposed to be doing from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. It appears to me that we are to eat, spend money and be with people we are related to that we don’t spend time with any other time of the year. We are asked to give money to charity and volunteer our time helping to feed the hungry and clothe the poor, and in general – we are expected to be kind to one another.

I would think that kindness should be a year-round sort of thing, and something you shouldn’t need to be told to do. I would also think that we should want to take care of those who need our help on a daily basis, and not only the weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year. If we need to be told to help one another – we have more problems than simply feeding the hungry.

Being with my family the past week has reminded me as a gay person, of how much progress has been made as far as tolerance and understanding on the part of some in the straight community goes. It has also reminded me of how in some instances – tolerance and understanding will never, ever be a part of the fabric of their lives.

It’s the religious right of my family who will never, ever find compassion and would much rather ignore or walk away than even consider any sort of compromise. How angry they are – and hateful – and how that must affect every aspect of their lives. And yet – these are the people who are constantly telling me I need to keep Christ in Christmas and that Christmas is about the birth of their Lord and Savior. No exceptions, no explanations, no other celebrations matter.

I love the bells and smells of the holiday season, and I’m all about the cookies, and I understand that we really are celebrating our own individuality and our own customs. Aren’t we trying to keep close to us that which is near and dear to our hearts? That which brings a smile to our face and a tear to our eye? Isn’t this what all this fuss is all about?

Celebrate in your own way – honor your past and make memories for your future.

Barb Hamp Weicksel was born in 1952 in Pennsylvania and moved to California in the early 1980s, where she met her partner Susan. They've been together some 30 years and share the love of Susan's four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her blog, Barb's Gift of Gab," can be found HERE.