When Christmas dawns on Thursday, I’ll hopefully still be in bed … at least till the crazy cat decides I’ve slept long enough and that he wants his present now. Yes, I give the behemoth a Christmas present. I like to live.
I won’t be with my human family, unfortunately, but I’ll still celebrate, which is one of the great things about our country—we have the freedom to do things here that people in other nations can only dream of. For some that means freedom to plunge further into debt to give lots of expensive gifts, some of which will just be returned the next day. For others it means celebrating simply, or not at all.
My family for years has taken the “no gift” tack, at least for the adults, reasoning that rampant consumerism isn’t what the holiday is supposed to be about. Sure, there’s still an occasional gift (thanks, Mom), but they’re not the reason we get together. We get together so we can talk about the family members who aren’t there (be nice, guys) and laugh at funny stories, usually told by my brother Corey. Then we eat beans, chili and soup and talk and tease some more until we’ve had our fill.
When we were kids, though, we reveled in all the gifts and assorted holiday goodies (cornbread dressing, especially my Mom’s, should be an all-year-long thing!), and it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility for us to dive into a pile of wrapping paper and ribbons as if they were fallen leaves.
It’s great to see the wonder and surprise on a child’s face when Santa (or someone) comes through with just what she wanted.
I still have a bone to pick, though, having gotten a Fashion Photo Barbie rather than the Fashion Plates I wanted one Christmas; c’mon, Santa!
Now I see how little all that mattered, and I’d give anything to be able to be back with my family, including some who’ve passed on. My Nanny Opal, for instance, could always pick her grandkids out of a crowd. Somewhere, there’s a photo album that includes pictures from one of the Christmas parades held in the town where my brothers and I went to school. Even with a bag over my head (I was Rudolph in our class’ Christmas train—we weren’t very inventive with our costumes), she knew it was me and was proud, no matter how goofy I looked or acted.
I know—me, goofy. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?
For you, my extended family (complete with the “eccentric” relatives with whom you should never discuss politics), I have a few wishes I wish every year, which should tell you something.
A sense of humor. You’re gonna need it because no matter how utterly peaceable your family usually is, at Christmas, someone will always put his foot in his mouth and start a fight. Ahhh … the holidays.
An open heart and mind. Nobody likes a crank, not even other cranks, and many of them are so cranky because they refuse to believe anything that doesn’t fit their worldview. Even Scrooge could laugh … these people, not so much.
World peace, even if just for 15 seconds. It’s better than nothing … and nothing is usually all I get from this wish. Still, hope springs eternal.
Optimism. If all you look for is the bad, that’s all you’ll ever find. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best; that little bit of hope can be the key to better things.
Chocolate. ’Nuff said, but never enough eaten.
The ability to compromise. Remember that no one can get everything he wants, so stop taking your ball and going home. Besides, we talk about you when you leave. Actually, go ahead; I’m feeling catty.
The retirement of horrible, horrible words and phrases like “irregardless” (a nonword, really), “feels” (you’re having feelings, not feels!!), “race card” (especially when someone accuses someone of playing it who didn’t) and “cray cray” (just say crazy and be done with it). For myself, I wish to catch all typos on my page before they hit your porch … my head’s a little sore from banging on the desk after seeing Tuesday’s page. I really can spell relevant … type it, on the other hand … I could say I meant the present participle of the French word reveler … but that would be a lie. I missed it, as did everyone else who saw the page before publication. Damn typoglycemia …
Perspective. As food critic Anton Ego opined in Ratatouille: “… you know what I’m craving? A little perspective. That’s it. I’d like some fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective.” Ego’s not the only one yearning for perspective, but partisans have the tendency to skew the debate in the way that’s most advantageous for whatever campaign they’re waging, such as the nonexistent war on Christmas. If you’re being exiled, imprisoned, tortured or killed for your beliefs, you are being persecuted. If someone wishes you “happy holidays,” you’re not, so stop trivializing what people who are actually being persecuted are going through.
Family and friends, whether human or of the fluffy variety, the goofier the better. My goofy fuzzball and I will be spending the day watching sappy Christmas movies, and maybe the Catherine Tate Christmas Carol special (again). It doesn’t make up for not being with Mom and my brothers, but at least I’ll get a laugh or three out of it. As long as I don’t make the boy move at any time. He gets testy when his rest is disturbed.
Most of all, I wish for all of you all the love and happiness possible. Save being cranky for another day, why doncha? Or at least wait till I’m out of the room. I get enough of that at home.