December 25, 2011 • The meaning of Christmas?

I don't know the meaning of Christmas any more than the person who claims that he or she does know the meaning of Christmas (cue Linus explaining that meaning on stage to Charlie Brown, a scene which I admittedly still love), but I do know that almost nobody admits how difficult it can be when people put so many expectations on each other . . . you have to be with family, you have to buy gifts, you have to send cards, you have to go to church, you have to eat turkey or ham, you have to be happy . . . 

Honestly, it's pretty hard to be happy with so many things you HAVE to do, and it's no wonder that people sometimes crack underneath the weight of all those expectations.

That's part of the reason I wrote "The Season for Giving," one of the stories in How to Survive and why I'll continue to write stories about the holidays no matter how much it drives my family nuts—to show that it's okay not to love all of these holiday obligations. Yes, the holidays give us a chance to spend quality time with the people we love, but let's be honest—they also wreak a lot of havoc on our otherwise routine lives.

And maybe that's the meaning of Christmas—to remind us how much we appreciate that routine, so that when we inevitably go back to it, it won't seem quite as mundane or unappealing as we remember.