It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s what they say and I pretty much believe ‘em. The Christmas season is a wonderful time of the year. Who doesn’t like a season that ends with a day of tearing open presents and eating cookies? Who? Oh, there are those humbugs out there. You don’t have to look far. I’m sure some of them are reading this blog right now. Well, I’m here to help you, little humbug. Come closer. Sit by the fire. Here’s some hot chocolate and a cookie. Uncle Gary is going to share with you ten things that make Christmas wonderful. We’re going to forget about all that other nonsense and just concentrate on the good. Okay? Okay.
- Christmas Carols. Ever had a group of carolers knock on your door then blast into a rendition of Go Tell It On The Mountain? Have you ever been a part of those door knocking singing gypsies? It’s fun! I love Christmas carols. I’m talking about those “Jesus is born” songs, sprinkled with a few Jingle Bells and Santa songs. Keep it old and easy to remember, I always say. If you throw in a “Christmas Shoes” chorus you might risk having hot cider thrown on you. What’s so great about Christmas carols? They are happy songs. Christmas Shoes is not. Here endeth the lesson.
- Christmas Lights. I hate putting them up and taking them down, but I like looking at them. My family and I take a drive every Christmas season just to look at lights nailed to houses. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? It’s the only time of year that you can park outside of someone’s house and stare without them calling the cops. There are some really talented light hangers out there with waaaaay too much time on their hands. Do these people have jobs? There’s one guy near our house that pays for an FCC license so he can broadcast Christmas music on a radio frequency that coordinates with his blinking lights. Crazy for him; great for us!
- Christmas Movies. Some of my favorite movies are Christmas films. Sure, you can watch them anytime these days on your DVD player, but it’s a little nutty, if you ask me. Christmas movies are for Christmas time, period. Don’t try to buck with tradition and toss in It’s A Wonderful Life on a balmy July morning. Save it for the chilly season. Some of my favorite Christmas movies are: Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Christmas Vacation, Scrooged, A Christmas Carol, It’s A Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Story.
- Cookies. I like cookies. That’s all I need to say, but I’ll go on. The best part about Christmas cookies is that some people make too many cookies and then they have to give them away… to me! What’s better than baking a batch of cookies? Free cookies!
- The Christmas Story. Not the Red Rider BB Gun story! I’m talking about the birth of Christ. I never read it, you say. What? I know the basic plot, though. No, no, no, that won’t do. Read the story. I like to imagine myself among the shepherds in the fields getting the message from a host of angels. It can be quite powerful if you try.
- Joy. Everybody is nice. Even though I get more “happy holidays” than “Merry Christmas’”, I still appreciate the kindness. If you cut out Black Friday, the most awful time of the year, people are generally polite, gentle, and full of joy at the stores and in the malls. There’s something about a total stranger telling you Merry Christmas that lifts up your spirit. It’s those moments that make me wish Christmas was every day.
- Parties. Who doesn’t like a good party? I love parties. I like talking to interesting people. I hate small talk, so interesting is a must. What’s so great about a party? Food, music, games, friends, and family to name a few of the great things. Parties are best when they are at someone else’s house, though. Parties at my house for me are just chores x 10. If I’m going to get down, I’m doing it in a living room and kitchen I don’t have to clean.
- Christmas Cards. If you’re like us at our house, we save every Christmas card we get; sometimes for years. They’re on the walls, shelves, mantles. They’re pinned to the board in the kitchen. They’re everywhere. I love getting a stack of Christmas cards in the mail. I even like the family newsletters. That’s right. I like hearing about the latest and greatest from the Smith family or whoever. I like getting those family picture cards of people I hardly know. It’s a game I like to call “Guess How You’re Related”. Thank God for my wife. She remembers everybody. It’s not because I don’t care. I have a horrible memory. Plus, I think I was dropped on my head when I was a kid. Not to mention, I’m a dope. What was I writing about again? Oh yeah, always buy low and sell high.
- Presents. Thought I wasn’t going to list it, didn’t you? What are you nuts? Of course, I’m going to list presents as one of the ten things that make Christmas wonderful. People giving you free things in a colorful presentation for just having the same last name is not a bad deal! Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! I like surprises. I like gifts with thought behind them. The price tag has no bearing on the value of a gift, in my opinion. That’s not to say that if someone bought me a new car, I wouldn’t be floored. However, some of my favorite gifts over time have been notes from my children, an old collection of Hemingway books, blank paper, a shotgun, and a Kindle Fire. Why did I pick those specific items? Because they are influenced by my character. The people that know me, understood what I would appreciate. My children telling me how they feel is priceless. Hemingway is my favorite writer and I’m nostalgic I’m a writer and blank paper is equivalent to a blank canvass for a painter. I enjoy shooting guns. I love to read. However, the best gift of all is having my family with me and seeing their faces when they rip open a present that I gave them. I enjoy giving more than receiving.
- Escape. From Christmas morning until New Years Day, is a brief moment in time where you get to escape from reality. All the worries, bad news, problems, and cares of the world are set aside. We get to live in a fantasy land where everybody is happy and they go out of their way to help others. It is a fantasy land. There is nothing real about it. Life goes on, regardless of the temporary mirth. That brief time is so powerful, though, that on the last day (New Years Day), we all make resolutions to continue the fantasy. Not many of us make it past a week. However, that moment in time is special. It’s a time of peace and relaxation. It’s a time of reflection and a time when hope does not seem such an unattainable notion.
Those are ten things that make Christmas wonderful. You’ll notice that I did not say snow. I make no apologies for leaving it out. Yes, I live in Michigan where the snowy months out number the steamy months. It is unfortunate. I am more of a beach and palm tree Christmas morning kind of guy. A tropical Christmas is the ideal Christmas for me. Snow is for suckers. And, yes, I realize that makes me a sucker.
Final thought: this Christmas season, don’t be a humbug. I know it’s difficult during these trying times. Don’t break the bank either. Christmas isn’t about getting the latest and greatest gadget for little Sammy. It’s a small portion of the season. Be kind to one another. Open a door for a lady, use sir and ma’am when talking to your elders, smile and make eye contact with people, give a gift to a stranger, say Merry Christmas, and hug your family. That’s the Christmas spirit. What do you mean, Gary? Love. Simply love.