Christmas really is a magical time of year, isn’t it? As much as I fight the urge, I still get a spring in my step when the sounds of the holidays fill every moment of my day. Since I am not a compulsive shopper, it helps that jingle bell tunes have not flooded my brain since before Thanksgiving. When I worked in retail, however, that spring in my step became a concrete shoe drag. Hour after hour of sickeningly sweet holiday blubber fed my Grinch alter ego. Perhaps I am alone in this thought, but to me, the commercialization of this blessed event is completely out of control.
Growing up, my family’s exposure to Christmas was very controlled. My older brother’s birthday was December 16. My parents went out of their way to make certain that the onset of Christmas did not overpower his birthday. It was tradition to put up and decorate our tree on that day, but not before his special day celebration was complete. These days I see Christmas trees and decorations on homes sometimes before Thanksgiving, but almost always by the day after. To each his own, but overindulgence simply diminishes the thrill for me.
Boy, do I remember the childhood adventure of the holiday though. Presents were never placed under the tree before Christmas Eve. Why? Because my older brother would find a way to secretly unwrap every gift to see what was inside and rewrap them thinking he fooled our parents.
What they did not know is he searched for hidden presents long before the gift-wrapping started. His curiosity was incurable, and extortion was his main gig. If I told him where to find his hidden presents, he would not tell mom and dad something I did not want them to know. And in reverse, he would tell me what presents he found for me if I promised not to tell mom and dad of his raucous indiscretions. We were definitely a wicked pair of mischievous elves.
And of course, there was always a holiday trip to downtown Indianapolis to see the store windows. Back then, all the major retailers had magical automated displays in their windows. Waving Santas, galloping reindeer, and animated carolers brought wide-eyed sighs from adoring children. Our journey always included hot cashews from the L.S. Ayres candy/nut counter too. It was a once-a-year treat that I will never forget.
As I get older it is not about the presents under the tree, but of the blessings of the holiday. A sparkle in the eye of a child will always melt my heart, but it is the prospect of Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men that will forever make me whole. I do sometimes fear that concept is lost in translation.
My Christmas countdown includes nonstop holiday movies on autoplay. “White Christmas,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “Miracle on 34th Street” always speak to my heart. Their messages never fade. And I simply love the “Santa Clause” and “Christmas Chronicles” series as well. Although, if I am truthful, it could well be the never-ending flow of brandy-laced eggnog and champagne that boosts my holiday spirit. Or maybe, just maybe, it is a soulful rendition of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.
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