I’ve been trying to write this diary for a couple of weeks now, looking for a way to wish all our Dreamland listeners and website fans a merry Christmas. But I just can?t get in the right mood this year. For me, Osama bin Laden is the Grinch who stole Christmas.

Every time I hear a new Homeland Security warning, I decide maybe I?d better not make that trip to the mall. But there’s more to it than that: I find that the colorful Christmas sale brochures and loud television ads really turn me off this year. I think it’s because I’ve been seeing so many scenes of Afghan life on the tube and they’ve brought home to me how very little so much of the world has. They’ve especially reminded me how hard life is for so many of the world’s women.

Anyway, Christmas shouldn’t be about shopping, it’s a religious celebration. But I have to admit that after seeing what religion can do, inspiring young men to give up their lives to cause the deaths of thousands of others by flying airplanes into buildings, I don’t feel terribly religious this year.

Well then, isn’t the Christmas season really about family? But I don’t have any kids in my life right now: My son’s grown and I don’t yet have any grandchildren. Maybe if I was around some little kids who still believe in Santa Claus, I could get into the Christmas mood.

One holiday custom is sending out Christmas cards. But right now, due to the anthrax scare, we’re not opening any mail from people we don’t know, so we’ll have to miss out on all the wonderful greetings we receive every year from Whitley’s readers. And I don’t get that many cards from friends and family, since I haven’t sent out Christmas cards myself for over 30 years.

So what is Christmas, anyway? After being accused of being a Grinch by the rest of my family for not wanting a tree this year or baking any Christmas cookies, I got to thinking about it. And I decided this: Christmas is a reason to be happy. Even if we don’t have many other reasons to be happy right now, we can use Christmas as an excuse to feel better, to smile. When we see everyone decked out in red and hear the carols we remember from childhood, when someone brings us a gift gaily wrapped and tied with a bow, these things make us happy.

If we were the sensitive, spiritual people we long to be, if we really appreciated what we have and always looked on the bright side of things, we would find a reason to be happy 365 days of the year.

But for the rest of us, there’s Christmas.

NOTE: This Diary entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.

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