John M. Whalen
Shari L. Armstrong
John M. Whalen
Lee S. King
year is no exception. Some years are better than others, and so far, this one is actually shaping up to be pretty low-key, all things considered. Some of that is by design, some of that is simply situational. I\u2019m not complaining.
That doesn\u2019t mean I don\u2019t feel the urge to complain. This is the time of year that I most have to fight the urge to vent about all the nutty people with the haunted eyes running around looking for the last \u2018must-have toy\u2019. Factor in the bad roads and the disruption of my usual schedule and I must resist the urge to be cranky when I most want to feel jolly. There are times that I think the best thing to do would be to grab everybody and just sail away from the entire holiday on a cruise ship somewhere. It\u2019s like I yearn for a holiday from the holiday.
When I was a kid, I remember lying on my back and looking up underneath the tree. I was practically bathing in evergreen aroma, the lights above me twinkled and danced. I smelled the spritz cookies cooking in the other room, Andy Williams was playing on the record player, and I could hear the pop of logs in the fireplace in the other room. I couldn\u2019t wait for Christmas eve when we\u2019d read the Christmas story and drink fresh, home-made
egg nog, and open one token present to whet our greedy little kid appetites. In retrospect, it\u2019s no wonder we couldn\u2019t sleep. Christmas eve dreams were always the most vivid. That may be why. We were sent to bed with the juices already flowing. There was a delicious yearning, a fuzzy anticipation of wonders and miracles waiting just around the corner.
My dad looked a little haggard, but I didn\u2019t think much of it at the time. I get it, now, and wish I\u2019d shown him how much I really did appreciate everything they did for me and my sisters. I remember very little about the stuff we got, but I clearly remember Christmas being a magical time, and my parents and family were very directly responsible for that.
Now that I\u2019m responsible for Christmas, I can\u2019t help but feel the burden for other people\u2019s memories. I have such big shoes to fill, and that\u2019s a compliment to my family, but every year I always end up feeling wanting because I\u2019m simply not as good or as into it all as they were. And on top of that, I\u2019m a pragmatist, and I know going in that nothing I receive will be exactly what I want, and what I give will never be exactly what they\u2019re expecting. As a result my experience is that Christmas, ultimately, is a holiday to endure more than enjoy, and there\u2019s something very wrong with that.
Take the 4th of July in America. Now there\u2019s a holiday. You get your day off, warm weather, time with family and friends, and a good meal, likely something grilled. You aren\u2019t on the hook for gifts, and pretty much all you need to provide is a good shade-tree, plenty of liquid refreshment, and some time to sit and chat together, or read together, or both. The primary expectation is to relax together. I can do that. Add in a hot bratwurst and a cold drink with friends and family, with a warm breeze and cool shade and some good lawn chairs, and I\u2019m pretty much in heaven. Yeah, that\u2019s my idea of a holiday.
So here we are with a holiday that is the polar opposite of my favorite holiday, and every year I try to figure out a way to make it special without breaking the bank or shattering somebody\u2019s fragile dreams.
Personally, I\u2019m tired of Christmas being tied to stuff. Stuff is temporary, stuff comes in the wrong size, stuff breaks, stuff requires batteries of the type that I probably forgot to stock ahead of time. There\u2019s no stuff tied to July 4th, and that holiday rocks.
The longer I\u2019m here, the more I appreciate simple things like fellowship and camaraderie and peace and joy. I think of how much I liked simpler times watching A Charlie Brown
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