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It wasn't that simple. Soon after I got in touch with my wisdom in 2006 I started to lose interest in holidays. I also I started being a complete asshole to all my friends and loved ones about then, so it's only fitting that I would hate on something as sweet and lovely as the holidays.

Just not fair! When I was small, Xmas was a big deal, and it was all about the presents. I felt so aggrieved that my birthday came just nine days before Xmas; I often got Xmas/birthday combo presents from minor relatives happy to be done with it in one go. But Mom always put on the full birthday boy treatment for me, including one of my favorite goopy cakes, either Tunnel of Fudge or Raspberry Rhapsody.

The entire world was one gigantic Xmas tree. In a public relations coup, Mom made the proximity of my b-day to Xmas a good thing by making that the day we put up the tree and began to decorate it. I did love the tree and the decorating, so that was particularly brilliant. Xmas was not always just about the presents. I have a couple of cherished memories that I now realize were moments of spontaneous meditation. One year the tree was so perfect it was transcendant. Everyone agreed: this particular tree was a step beyond. I spent hours every evening just basking in its glory. That happened some in other years, but this year, I think it was 1963, the tree really sent me. The other magic Xmas was around the same time, early 60s. We'd been hoping for a white Xmas; the forecast was borderline. We woke to brilliant sunshine and the world had turned to Austrian crystal: a freezing rain in the night. Every twig, every pine needle was coated with ice, shimmering in the sunlight.

Yeah, she was classier; what can I say? Gail was born on the 15th, so December was our Special Month. It didn't mean that much in childhood, but after I returned from Kenya and turned her and Sam onto pot, it became quite the thing. We put on a huge feast, making endless toasts with cold duck, our celebratory beverage, replacing my usual Ripple or Boone's Farm, her usual Lancers or Mateus.

Synanon. My disenchantment with holidays had a philosophical base, of sorts. It was a bit of cheesy pop wisdom that got me going down this track: "Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

It can only happen right here right now. As I pondered that, I realized that today really is the only day there is. I can't do anything on any other day because the past and the future are imaginary; they don't really exist. Now is the only time I can make progress. I used to focus all my attention of some upcoming holiday only to be disappointed when it came; holidays never seemed to live up to their hype. In the meantime, they robbed the present of my attention, gobbling up my one and only chance to get enlightened, to make progress with love.

I'm no Grinch. Mulling all this over, I gradually lost interest in holidays. The traditional observances do nothing for me, and the oversized chaotic meals are well worth missing. But I enjoy the holiday spirit around Xmas. It's wonderful that people get more friendly and gregarious. I particularly like it when someone wishes me Merry Christmas, so I can wish that right back without fear of being politically incorrect.