This may be the only holiday card you're getting from me this year--that's because there wasn't room enough to write everything I wanted to say on one of those Hallmark jobbies. It also means I had to leave out the fifty dollar bill I was planning to tuck inside the card. Sorry.
I'm going to tell you about the meaning of Christmas--but it's not what you might expect. There are folks who like to haul out the annual guilt trip, reminding you of the "true" significance of the holiday--usually when they catch you having too much fun. I don't buy into that, nor do I subscribe to the popular notion that Christmas is over-commercialized.
Some interpret the Nativity as myth, others accept it as gospel, but it ain't anyone else's business to tell you and me which it should be. Secondly, in the U.S. we live in a capitalist society. Like it or not, the selling of goods and services is what our battered economy depends on. Yet some of us get all huffy during the holidays when business people do what comes naturally, which is to capitalize on the opportunity.
Lighten up already.
Christmas is perfect just the way it is. Everyone gets exactly what he or she wants from it. The retailer brings in the major chunk of his yearly revenue. The homeless person gets a free feast.
Grandma gets to see the kids and grand kids who don't come around the rest of the year. And people everywhere, in spite of themselves, warm to one another. What could be more perfect than that?
There is a young boy who sneaks off to the mall in the latter part of September, because he knows that's when some of the stores begin erecting their Christmas displays. He knows which stores to check because he has done this before. He's got it down to a science. He finds the section that has been cleared of summer merchandise and now is littered with boxes. A few ornaments have been hung on their racks with care, and an employee is crouched on the floor, struggling to wrap the first string of lights around that first fake tree. An adult couple walks by, issuing a pronouncement about it being too early in the season, for Christ's sake, to be putting up all this crap. The boy feels sorry for the employee...she's only doing her job. He knows the store management is trying to hasten the buying season, but he doesn't care. For him, the holidays are glitter, warmth, and fuzziness--and something magical happens when those lights flicker on. While all about him the desert dwellers curse the heat, the boy exults in his moment of discovery. He understands that December 25th is anticlimactic, and that the heart and soul of Christmas lies in the slowly building momentum...the wide-eyed anticipation on the faces of kids from one to ninety-two.
Jump cut to late November. The broken cookies and fruitcakes are heading your way in the mail. The dumb commercials for Chia Pet and The Clapper are back on TV. The Budweiser Clydesdales are clip-clopping across your screen. And some jerk at the office party will dance around with a lamp shade on his head and end up decked in the hall. Soon, someone will step into a red suit and glue on a white beard and BECOME Santa Claus. Carolers will sing in the distance, and the winter night will no longer feel cold.
It's all a hoot.
So that's my fa la la la blah blah. Oh yeah, before I ride out of sight, there's a confession I have to make concerning the aforementioned young boy.
Yes, Virginia, that little kid is me.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HANUKKAH !