Looks a lot like Christmas

Since before Halloween, stores have been putting out their Christmas merchandise. Red ribbons and silver bells along with trees of every shape, size, and color wait in the stores to decorate someone’s home. I actually saw a metallic purple tree in Savannah a few weeks ago. It was resplendent with pink lights and green ribbons. I won’t say I hated it, but I wouldn’t want it standing in my living room for the month of December—not even one day of it. I’m more a traditionalist myself. I want my old faithful ornaments that the children and grandchildren made or that we’ve collected over the years. I also like the ornaments that someone chose or made just for my family. Just today we added a handful of red Santas done in plastic canvas and filled with Hershey’s kisses. None of our ornaments are expensive. They have little monetary value, but to me they are priceless. I do like my Christmas tree.

So many people my age tell me that they no longer put up trees. It’s just too much trouble, they say, but I will put one up as long as I’m able to do it myself or convince someone to help me. My grandson Stuart is that someone right now. Every year he very loyally comes out and helps me stand it up. Putting the ornaments on is a labor of love.

I love the feeling of Christmas. People are nicer in December. Watch carefully as shoppers throw change or folded bills into the Salvation Army buckets. Groups turn their attention to giving. We collect food for the disadvantaged and presents for needy children. The idea of Christmas reminds us to care for each other, to be the kind of people we should be year-round.

Yet people complain constantly about the commercialism of Christmas. An incredible number of ads are directed toward children. My son Calvin calls it the “I-want-a season.” If you click on Facebook, America’s modern-day backyard fence, you’ll see all the slogans: Keep Christ in Christmas. Christmas ain’t about money! Jesus is the reason for the season.

Let us stop and think for a minute how the world got in this problematic position. Christmas wouldn’t be so commercial if we, the consumers, didn’t spend like lunatics, buying every whatchamacallit and thingamabob out there. Supposedly it starts on Black Friday. People trample each other, snatch sale items, and growl and snarl like wild dogs to save a few dollars. Where’s that Christmas spirit I was just talking about. Obviously, it stays home on Black Fridays.

That same spirit is very much alive in the hearts of quite a few people in town though. Last week I drove my cousin Max to the doctor and afterwards we went to eat. We enjoyed a wonderful buffet lunch of vegetables, meatloaf, and peach cobbler along with a modicum of conversation. Good food slows conversation. As we were preparing to leave, 93-year-old Max had a bit of trouble rising from his chair. He held to the table and tried to get up twice. Then a gentleman from another table noticed our plight and came to help. He appeared, gave Max a lift, nodded his head, and left. That’s the spirit I appreciate in this small town we live in. We are fortunate to have it year round.

We can’t change the world from a Facebook page or a billboard, but we can change the way we celebrate Christmas and treat other people in our own households. Christmas is a mere 17 days away. Whether your shopping is done or not, take some time to spend with the children you love. Read “T’was the night before Christmas” to them. Cuddle on the couch and watch Rudolph and the Grinch. Don’t forget Frosty the Snowman. Make some gingerbread cookies and let little hands help. So what if they get the kitchen all messy? Kitchens are washable.

Spend a little quality time remembering the reason for the season. Remember calm Joseph, Mary, and the new baby in the stable out in the countryside.

As Christmas Day rushes upon us again, we can’t change the way the rest of the world celebrates. We can however change the way we do things around our own trees or hearths. We can change our own little corners of the world. It’s entirely up to everyone to celebrate as he wishes. May it forever be so.