Allison Plean's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Steamboat Springs Every December, I feel like a Christmas poser.
I graciously accept people's "Merry Christmas" wishes and return the salutation. It just takes too long to explain my Christmas confliction.
I was brought up without religion. Some years, I would celebrate Christmas, and other years, I would celebrate Hanukkah. It depended on where I was on those holidays.
Not officially celebrating Christmas does have its perks. It makes me everybody's favorite employee and co-worker because I always offer to work Christmas.
Despite being a holiday orphan, December is my favorite month. There's the obvious spirit that permeates the holiday season, the pretty lights, decorations and Christmas carols. But it's also a time to reconnect with people you haven't corresponded with all year.
Every December, I look forward to a Christmas card from a woman I met on an airplane when I was returning home from a disappointing trip to France. I was crying because I just had my heart broken and she was crying because she had buried her mother in Paris. Every year, we use Christmas cards as a way to touch base with each other.
I do believe in Christmas miracles. For example, I put an old, chewed up couch and a papasan chair without the base at the end of my driveway. I forgot to put a "free" sign on them; still, someone took them. It saved me a trip to the dump and restored my Christmas spirit.
And I can totally get into the spirit of presents. Much of the gift giving is nothing more than brilliant marketing with no connection to religion. So, it works for me.
The only problem with Christmas shopping is that we tend to spend twice as much as we should. And I'm not talking about buying the new PlayStation 3 for $3,000 on eBay.
Every time I go Christmas shopping, I end up buying a couple of things for myself as well. I can't leave the fate of whether I get new noise-canceling headphones up to Santa Claus.
I think many of us operate on the "one for you, one for me" Christmas shopping philosophy. Or maybe I'm just jaded from having a birthday four days after Christmas.
I have gotten screwed every year of my life with combined gifts.
I used to feel bad for my cousin who was born on New Year's Eve, but what could be better than everyone celebrating your birthday?
Now that I live in Steamboat, I'm not the only holiday orphan. Many people aren't with their families on the holidays. And I always regret saying I will work on Christmas because then I have to turn down all the invitations I get to celebrate with my drifter friends.
The holiday season reminds us of all of the people we love and how important they are to us. Every Thanksgiving, when it's my turn to say what I am thankful for at the dinner table, my list is longer than Santa's gift list.
Even though the holiday season doesn't carry any spiritual undertones to me personally, it is the holiday spirit that makes me love the month of December.
People act nicer to each other, like letting renters stay past when their lease is up so they won't be homeless on Christmas. Community dinners and toy drives are organized. People donate more money to charities and give gifts to all the people they appreciate in their lives like mailmen, milkmen and doormen.
Not everyone celebrates Christmas, but everyone gets to attend holiday parties and take part in the joy of giving during the holiday season. In a perfect world, we would act like this every month of the year.