123: Help

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For the first time in my life, I am excited for Yule time. For most of my life December was the month of tacky decorations, horrible Christmas music and a whole lot hype culminating in the most boring day of the year, when nothing is open except Chinese restaurants. Now, I'm living a country that is secularly Lutheran and I think is one of the countries that has been celebrating Yule the longest. With the days becoming dramatically shorter, celebrating the turn of the tide to lighter days seems very meaningful. Stores are full of exciting advent calendars from Lego to beer to bonbons to anything you can imagine. The wreathes are beautiful ornate affaires full of pinecones and mosses instead of tacky velvet bows and tinsel. They sell all these mini ornaments cheaply that will be perfect for decorating the individual wreathes I get for each family member (I don't like the trees because A) mess and B) too steeped in religion whereas a circular wreath seems good and Jewish and circle of lifey.). I'm told Yuletide markets will be popping up and all the toys are aggressively on sale. Special delicious foods are showing up in the grocery stores and in general the hype is exciting. Forget the USA and the push and pull of is-it-CHRISTmas-or-do-we-all-have- to-say- "Happy Holidays!" and pretend that a large portion of people aren't celebrating the birthday of their messiah. No more high horse concerns for me of separation of church and state, because the church is part of the state here. It's just a celebration that everyone partakes in and what you religiously believe is your own business. As an added plus, I've never had so many non-European Christian friends, so if the kids are bored after the presents are open and before it's time for me to put the special foods on the table, I'm sure we can find some Muslims or Eritrean Orthodoxes who are likewise feeling stir crazy for a trip to the playground. This is a good place to be a minority.