In my calendar, I have marked off the next five days starting with tomorrow with the words "family invasion." This is a tongue-in-cheek phrase: I actually really do like my extended family. Wife's family will descend upon our home for Christmas this weekend, and I'm sure we'll have a great time with lots of food, drink, and probably a few presents hither & yon. And yes, we'll light Chanukah candles, too. It's going to be a big slumber party here at Chesterley for the next several nights, and I'm really looking forward to it. We have the tree all set up, and decorations appear in most rooms in the house. This photo is a more festive corner of our living room/dining room/music room.
Note the cards hanging over the glass doors. One of the things I look forward to this time of year is sending and receiving holiday cards. I like the opportunity to get caught up with friends and family from all over the place. We typically send cards only to friends who do not live here in SCT, since the goal is to update those we rarely see on our lives. Years ago when I lived alone, I started decorating my windows with holiday cards I'd receive, just by tying a piece of string between my perpetually unused curtain rods and hanging pictures along it. It's really the only holiday decoration I'd bother with at that time in my life, but I'm glad we're continuing that tradition here at Chesterley. For me it serves as a reminder of the friends we've gathered in the various places we've lived. The cards are always colorful and festive, and we seem to get more and more each year as our circle of friends grows. So, many thanks to our friends for helping us decorate our house! For me, that's the "meaning" of this holiday: a reflection on the good relationships we have as being one of the better gifts of the season.
And that's probably as sentimental as I'm going to get about Christmas. I'm not a Scrooge or anything, but for me this has always been more a time to reflect on good friends and family than it is a religious thing.
Happy winter solstice to you!