I wish I may …

I think there's a Christmas tree in there ...

I think there’s a Christmas tree in there …

****

Material things have never really been the focus of my family’s Christmas celebrations; it’s being together and being grateful for all the blessings we have.

We know that bad things happen (and many have happened to us), but on Christmas, especially, dwelling on the negative serves no purpose except to make one very cranky.

Speaking of cranky ... but at least I look adorable ...

Speaking of cranky … but at least I look adorable …

Plus, there’s that mess from the annual hootenanny/food fight, and I’m not cleaning it up.

That’s not to say I don’t like presents. I do. Especially if they’re made of or contain copious amounts of chocolate.

And I’d love a new car but, being rooted in reality, I know that’s not happening.

I do have a Christmas wish list, though, but those wishes aren’t for me. They’re for the world, and for you. OK, so they’re for me, too.

****

First on the list is a gathering lacking in politics. There’s enough of that out in the world, and despite the efforts of some, politics have no place in Christmas celebrations, especially if the day is supposed to be truly holy. And, again, there’s that inevitable food fight.

Next, a sense of humor. You’re gonna need it once all the cousins and their dog walkers start arriving to test your Christmas spirit.

An open heart and an open mind. If you close off your heart and mind to everything that doesn’t mesh with your worldview, you’re just setting yourself up for a lonely life of your own design. You have the power to be happy; if you refuse, you’d better start getting used to being called a crotchety, cranky curmudgeon, which might mean shopping for moldy old sweaters and high-waisted pants before you’re 40.

Whadya mean I need a sweater? And get off my lawn!

Whadya mean I need a sweater? And get off my lawn!

World peace, even if just for 15 seconds. It’s better than nothing.

Optimism. That doesn’t mean you have to ignore reality. The philosophy my mom and I have is to expect the worst but hope for the best. The worst won’t happen often, but if you’ve anticipated it, you can work around it when it does. Every time I visit Mom’s oncologist, I do exactly that, and so far, the nodes are stable. As a daughter, I want them to be gone, but if they’re not worse, I can live with that. I need her and her goofiness around for as long as possible.

Chocolates

Chocolates (Photo credit: J. Paxon Reyes)

Chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

Patience, strength and wisdom: Patience for when your great-uncle tells that embarrassing story about your childhood for the 1,586th time, strength to hold yourself back from stuffing that ugly plaid leisure-suit jacket into his mouth to make him stop, and wisdom to know when to shut up and leave the room. Besides, this is family; blood is thicker than water, and harder to clean out of the carpet.

These guys have no idea how lucky they are this isn't the cape picture

How to stop one fight: two trains.

The ability to compromise. Politicians can’t seem to do it any more, bringing some vital work to a standstill, and unfortunately, it seems to be spreading to the public at large. No one can get everything they want, a lesson that should really be easy at this time of year. Life shouldn’t be about who got the upper hand or who has the most toys. Compromise isn’t a dirty word—ask your nephew; he knows ’em all.

The retirement of pundit cliches such as “drinking the Kool-Aid,” “job creators” (and its brother “job-killing”), “kick the can,” “low-information voter,” and so many others that clutter our lives. They’re lazy reasoning, and sound like talking points. Oh, and there’s another one. Darn it. And let’s drop “pundit” while we’re at it.

Oh to be young again ...

Oh to be young again …

Innocence. There’s nothing like Christmas to a child who hasn’t lost her sense of wonder. Reality intrudes far too much already, so just accept the possibility that pink, sparkly unicorns are real.

Understanding. The world is full of many people of all races, creeds and colors, but on the inside, we’re all the same, and too many of us forget that. There’s little chance that everyone will suddenly get along, but if we can respect our differences while recognizing how we’re the same, perhaps we can keep the arguing to a dull roar and the police off speed-dial.

Perspective. Not getting your way (or the new iPhone) is not a national tragedy, and claiming persecution when you’re not actually being exiled, imprisoned, tortured or killed trivializes actual persecution. Take a breath, calm down and leave the drama to politicians and teenagers. And cue your brother’s Inigo Montoya impression.

Better earworms than “What Does the Fox Say,” “Wrecking Ball,” and “YMCA.” Plus the ability to listen to the radio without wanting to strangle the DJ for playing “Gangnam Style” yet again (why hasn’t it been wiped from our brains yet??). Me, I’m breaking out Bob Rivers‘ “There’s Something Stuck Up in the Chimney” … as soon as I get the kids out of the room.

Spaz attack in three ... two ... one ...

Spaz attack in three … two … one …

Goofy creatures to take our minds off the day’s useless arguments; if not, a strong Internet connection and access to YouTube’s countless compilations of comedic cats and dippy dogs are the prescription for merriment malaise. Take two and call me in the morning.

Did I mention chocolate? Never underestimate the power of Godiva, Ghirardelli and Hershey’s.

****

This is the time of year when people often implore us to remember the reason for the season. I say go beyond that and do more by embodying his lessons of love, acceptance, service to others, forgiveness and humility. Recognize and respect our differences while acknowledging our similarities.

And please, keep anger to a minimum. Some of those fruitcakes can be deadly weapons.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Now, where’s that chocolate?

See? No war whatsoever. Photo credit: Getty Images.

See? No war whatsoever. Photo credit: Getty Images.

 

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