Less than a week until Christmas and the Grinch is making himself known. He’s there in the mall parking lot as shoppers circle around and wait, wait for a parking space. He stands in line at the cash register, making sure something goes haywire (price check anyone?). Can you hear him laughing as some people still argue about what is the politically correct term for Christmas and worse, some offices, etc. are banning Christmas decorations? Check out http://woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/Xmas/oldmeaning.htm for some of the craziness in the name of political correctness surrounding previous Christmas years – including a sarcastic politically correct ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.
Christmas time was so much simpler when I was growing up in the 50s and early 60s. I write a bit about this in my memoir.
My parents give me a few dollars to buy Christmas gifts. I buy Dad socks or some other dad present and Mom, well, I put a lot of thought into her presents. After I check out the local jewellery store, I drag Dad in to look – not at jewellery – but at a ceramic wall decoration in white with red apples and purple plums painted on the front.
But the real joy of Christmas is wrapping the presents. A closed wooden door separates us – Mom at the kitchen table and me at the dining room table. Amid the “pass the scotch tape; now keep your eyes shut,” and the hurried covering of unwrapped presents, we could be wrapping side-by-side. I didn’t realize it then, but it was giving to someone I loved that filled me with contentment. It didn’t matter that the fireplace was electric; or whether Santa existed, when Mom and I wrapped Christmas gifts, we were like one. Dad never helped wrap presents, at least not when I was awake. He probably ate the raisin bread and drank the milk that Mom and I left for Santa.
(Copyright 2011, Sharon Crawford. Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons)
Does it really matter whether we call it Christmas or just a holiday? Does it matter if we equate the Christmas spirit (which many seem to find only in a bottle) with Santa Claus or Jesus Christ or (substitute your own version here)? And please don’t all the Christians ride herd on me for saying that. I may not be big on religion but I do believe in Jesus Christ. My point is that many of us don’t have any Christmas spirit. We stress ourselves out trying to make the perfect Christmas with the perfect gifts, the perfect dinner and the perfect family gathering. Doesn’t usually happen. In short, we become our own Christmas Grinch.
First we need to think of what the Christmas spirit means to us and then put it into action. It is not charging around shopping malls at the last minute, but maybe it is helping out a family who has fallen on hard times. Or maybe it is visiting a senior member of your family (or any senior) whom you’ve neglected visiting because you were just too darn busy. Maybe it is opening your home to a friend who would otherwise spend Christmas alone (and maybe you would otherwise, too). To me the Christmas spirit is sharing who and what you are with others, trying to make a positive joyful difference. One of my writing colleagues blogs about random acts of kindness. Check it out at http://50gooddeeds.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/write-by-your-side/ – particularly this post – to get some ideas. I’m trying to adopt some of this. Every time I go out the door, I try to be open to any situation where I can help someone – even if it is only holding a door open or giving someone older than I a seat on the bus…and thanking the bus driver or streetcar driver when I exit.
And for those of us getting stressed out over Christmas, here are some tips to get through and over the stress and maybe enjoy Christmas. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Christmas_tips_to_reduce_the_stress
Ho! Ho! Ho! Joyful and happy Christmas to all.
Only Child Writes