Now this is a curious thing. I do, of course, remember my childhood Christmases. But strain though I might, I can't think of a single childhood Christmas gift.
No, I take that back. No sooner did I write that than I remembered three of them. The first one was a football. The only reason I remember that is that I was responsible for gathering up all the wrapping paper and trash that year. I threw out my football.
Yes, yes, it's good to spend time with family. And there are many magical moments around the holidays. There's the sound of Christmas carols, possibly the best music in the world. There's the moment when the last present is assembled, boxed, wrapped, and placed under the tree. There's the excited screech of the children, stampeding down the steps. There's that moment when all the opened presents are stacked, all the trash has been picked up, and that glazed look of satiation appears on every face.
Thanksgiving continues to be my favorite holiday. First, it requires only that you get together with friends and family, and eat as much good food as humanly possible.
Second, I like the idea on which it is based: we have much to be thankful for.
My life these days is very rich. I am blessed with a family I adore, and work that matters to me. I have my health. While my finances are modest, so are my needs. I have a slowly widening circle of friends and colleagues.
And I have books.
When I was in high school, I got deep into the works of Ayn Rand. Then I took a class from a guy who infuriated me. His subject was sociology. When he asked the question, "Who came first: the individual or society?" I knew the answer. The individual. Of course.
But the teacher said I was wrong. The right answer, he said, was "society." Without society, he said, you would have no self, would not have opinions about culture because there would be no culture. You would be an animal.