One of the things I find difficult to get my head round these fractious political days is how people can take offence at being wished 'Happy Holidays'. It seems a cheerful and emotionally uncomplicated message, which has needlessly acquired uncheerful and contentious baggage. Merry Christmas is another pleasant greeting, as is Happy Hanukkah. If people are worried about not mentioning which religious festival they're celebrating, why is Season's Greetings not equally suspect? It all seems so strange and arbitrary.
Living in a culturally varied city, as I do, I enjoy opportunities for mutual goodwill at various points throughout the year: Diwali, Eid, Chinese New Year are all focus of public celebration.
(And, while I'm at it, how much nicer it is to have fireworks as the evenings get darker as part of a festival of light than in memory of a failed terrorist attack. Remember, Remember the 5th of November, but let's forget why we have the bonfires and just enjoy the party.)
Anyway, 2016 has been an unsatisfactory year in all kinds of ways, and I won't be especially sorry to see the back of it. In the meantime, let us all make sure to take some time out, partake in whatever kind of religious or secular activities we find nourish our souls, and reconnect with the people who matter to us most.
I'll be back towards the New Year to start our journey into 2017, but will be taking my own advice in the meantime and having a break both from blogging and answering my emails. In the meantime, you might enjoy this commentary on the meaning of Christmas from James Cook, who taught me stand-up comedy some years ago. (Warning: not very much swearing, but enough that I feel the need to warn you.)