Last week was my favorite holiday of all the holidays. While I do enjoy my town’s goofy Fourth of July parade and I’ve always liked raising a glass with neighbors on New Year’s Eve, the real once-a-year day of reflection and celebration for me is Buy Nothing Day.
I grew up in a small town and my family wasn’t religious. And I mean that in the not-religious sense, not the “Only go to church on Christmas and Easter” sense. No one ever went to church, or temple, or anywhere else to worship, ever. We had a town center with a town hall and a town common and a Congregationalist church. There would sometimes be community suppers there, or the bloodmobile. We had a Christmas tree at home and I didn’t really learn that I was partly Jewish until I went to college and my Jewish friends explained the whole Jewish thing to me. I’m surprised I didn’t catch on sooner when I was visiting my mom’s relatives in New Jersey, but I’m not always that clued-in to things. I say this only as a way of explanation that I really do understand the secular Christmas thing, but it’s still not a holiday I enjoy much. Too much baby Jesus, too many formally structured events, too much shopping and overeating, too much “this is how you do this right”.