Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Deck the Halls (Part One)

I had a few ideas for Christmas blogs that never quite developed, since I've been preoccupied with getting the revised edition on Chasing the Wind up on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other retail sites by Christmas. So I decided to repost my Blogs of Christmas Past for the next few days....


I love Christmas. I love the big dinners and the music and the presents and the family all together for that one special day. Most of all I love the real reason for Christmas. I love knowing that 2000 years ago, God came to earth to live among us, to know us and to save us. I love thinking about what that first Christmas must have been like, and being able to see it so clearly in my own mind. 

I don't love so much of what Christmas has become: angry people on the roads and in the malls, pushing and shoving, jostling for position in the lines for the most popular gift items. I don't love crowds and high-pressured sales pitches and lazy bums who prefer to steal someone else's money and/or gifts instead of working for their own. 

I was at the mall one Christmas. It was funny, actually--as I went from one store to another, a young man attempted to charm his way to a sale: arms outstretched, big smile, big tube of very expensive lotion in hand in a bid to convince me I could not live without that lotion. Little did he know. I changed lanes, moving to the other side of the aisle, and that big smile instantly vanished. I can only imagine what I was called in that disappointing moment! 

Then there was the turkey who attempted to help himself to my cash. I felt his hand the minute it hit the zipper on my messenger bag. I came down hard on the trespassing hand. "If you want to keep that, buddy, you'd better take it back NOW." 

These days, I shop online....

I think he had an accident, if you know what I mean. 

I don't love that there are some who want to celebrate Christmas even though they don't believe in God, in Jesus. And I'm not referring to religions other than Christianity. Our Jewish friends celebrate Hannukah. Our Muslim neighbors have their holy days. I don't know much about other religions, but I'm sure they have theirs as well. No...my gripe is with atheists, the real party poopers. They don't believe in God, don't believe that he came to live in our world as the infant Jesus, but they want the holiday anyway. They want to say the more politically correct "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" so they can have all of the fun without belonging to the club. 

I wonder how they explain to their kids what they're celebrating? "Oh, we're celebrating Daddy being sober for a whole year!" 

I say to them, don't celebrate a holiday if you don't believe in it. Too bad, Mr. and Ms. Grinch. No presents for you. 

My former brother is a Jehovah's Witness. They don't celebrate holidays or birthdays. My father always said Jeff became a Witness not because he really believed in their doctrine, but because he was just plain cheap and didn't want to have to buy any gifts. Jeff bristled every year when we put up our Christmas tree. He thought we should give up our tree because he didn't believe in it. He claimed we were worshipping the tree, of all things! Dad couldn't resist--when he'd see Jeff's truck pull up in front of the house, he told us to get down on our knees and bow to the tree when Dipstick came through the door. 

Mom complained that was a little hard on the knees. 

Christmas was always a big deal for Mom and Dad, and it's at this time of the year that I miss them most. (Dad's been gone 16 years now, and Mom 9.) They were always like a couple of kids in their unabashed enthusiasm. They'd spend weeks preparing, shoping for gifts and trying to hide them from us. We were never allowed to put the tree up until Christmas Eve, and it was always the same: we'd get some form of takeout so Mom wouldn't have to cook--she'd begin preparing our Christmas dinner that night and couldn't deal with TWO meals at once. We'd watch a rerun of A Christmas Carol on TV--always the 1938 black-and-white version. 

Once the tree was up and completely decorated, the gifts would start to appear from their hiding places. They would be placed under the tree and Dad would do a count to make sure everyone had an equal number of packages. There was never one gift per person, always at least 7 or 8, usually 10. 

I remember one year Mom was a package short. Dad quickly remedied the problem with cash. He didn't want her to know it was cash, of course, so he wrapped it around a roll of toilet paper. Mom knew it probably wasn't just TP--Dad was notorious for gag gifts. He could be very creative in his gift-giving. His Christmas tradition was a little weird: instead of a lump of coal, the unfortunate target of his ire would get a beautifully-wrapped box of poop. 

I kid you not. POOP. Usually of the canine variety. I remember one Christmas when I was in college, he actually mailed the poop to a friend who was living in Tennessee at the time. I held my breath until it was received, wondering what would happen if postal inspectors happened to open the darned thing! 

I miss those good old days. 

Collin and I are making new traditions, new memories. Collin has never been good at keeping a secret--it's like lying. He didn't get that gene, for which I am grateful. 

Trouble is, I will know every gift he's giving me BEFORE Christmas. The Christmas before Dad died, he wanted a self-propelling lawn mower. He had a bad heart (only in the physical sense) and was having trouble using his old mower. To haul it in Mom's Escort, we'd have to put the back seat down, so we left Collin, then 11 years old, with Dad while we went to get it. All of our plans to sneak the thing into the back yard to hide it were, as it turned out, unnecessary--Dad came to the front door when we arrived, grinning from ear to ear. I knew immediately that my darling son had ratted me out. 

I miss those days.


  1. Usually the canine variety?? You are funny Norma, I enjoyed reading all your posts this year. Thanks for being an inspiration and thanks for the smiles. There are good days ahead too! My best wishes to you and Collin for a beautiful Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

  2. Lovelovelove this post.... and Merry Christmas to you and Collin.

    I am always amazed when people complain about...I'm to stressed, tired, all the presets I HAVE to buy and those d**m cards ? ? ? (see my Monday post )
    Hey don't do it, just stop. It is just that easy.
    First of all, Christmas should be for you and your family, then a gift or card is for your friends something nice you do for friends not a chore.
    Illness put me behind this year but I am usually finished by the fist week in December. I want to have time to enjoy the lead-up to Christmas. Time to enjoy the music, decorating of the tree, cooking, movies lights and just sitting by my tree.
    I don't understand the crazed people.

    And Norma, every time someone says Happy Holidays to me, I make sure I say Merry Christmas back !

    cheers, parsnip

  3. I've come to know that giving is much better than receiving...I give as much as I can, but it's more than that. It's being with family and friends, the ones that mean the most to us. Those are the true gifts...

    Luckily I have wonderful family and friends for whom I don't want live without. Even if we're miles apart, I love them all. (BTW, of course that means you!!)

  4. @Parsnip-Me too....I say "Merry Christmas" too when someone says "Happy Holidays" or Season's Greetings"....!!

  5. I think no matter what you believe or don't believe in, the spirit of Christmas can still be celebrated... it's not about the presents anyway. But a true atheist doesn't believe in anything so they'd probably have a problem with the meaning behind Christmas anyway that's separate from Jesus.

    Hope you have a wonderful Christmas, Norma!

  6. I love that ending... Collin ratting you out!

    One of the traditions my brother has is to find a way to tell me "way to go! Once again you have ruined Christmas!"

  7. Thank you and Merry Christmas to all of you.

    William--shame on your brother!

  8. Hmm...sometimes I say Happy Holidays just out of habit. I don't think everyone means it as anti-Merry Christmas. Whether people focus on Jesus, I think of it as a time when we are reminded to give, especially to those in need, and to go the extra mile to express our love to eachother. But personally I celebrate the birth of Jesus, and God is my Santa!
    It is a hard time to miss family, Norma. I hope you and Collin have a Merry Christmas!

  9. It's a joke between he and I. We're always teasing each other.

  10. That's different, then. He can live.

  11. I was surprised, knowing how close you and Eric are....

  12. He and I have a bit of a running joke about that kind of thing. We get along famously.

  13. I remember you saying you're a great deal alike....

  14. This year money's tight. It's amazing how many things we can do in the spirit of giving ... a clean kitchen, a ride to the store, a hot cup of coffee on a cold morning. Everyday stuff becomes extraordinary at Christmas time.

  15. LOL! I know I've read this before.

  16. Thank you. I absolutely agree with what you said about atheists. All are welcome to believe as they choose but don't mess with the rights of other people to have their religious holidays. We don't mess with people's rights to be atheists.


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