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How I Gave Up Christmas and Found Serenity

Give Christmas the heave ho-ho!

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Throwing a holiday party? Sure, I'll come -- but only if it's in my neighborhood, or not more than a subway stop or so away. My house is open to friends passing through. The decorations are simple: an edging of tiny white lights around the window, a few pine boughs on the window ledge.

As the solstice approached in 2010, the full moon was covered in the veil of the sun's shadow -- the first full lunar eclipse to occur at solstice in hundreds of years. Had I spent that at the mall, or packing for a trip home, I would have missed it. Instead, I got to marvel at the spectacular sight.

My family's Christmas has survived quite nicely without me. My nieces and nephews know I love them, and they get little presents from me at other times in the year. My parents have accepted my choice, even though they'd rather I was with them. And me, I feel a little less guilty each year for seizing my moment of peace, knowing I'm a far more pleasant person for it than I could ever be if caught in the Christmas frenzy.

I understand that, if you have small children, opting out of Christmas may not seem a good choice (unless, of course, you adhere to a non-Christian religious tradition). But we can all simplify our traditions and distill our expectations to their essence: a time of joy and peace.

Adele M. Stan is a journalist based in Washington, D.C., who specializes in covering the intersection of religion and politics. She is RH Reality Check's senior Washington correspondent.

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