We here at the Tribune have observed what has been dubbed “Christmas Spirit Week” this week. There have been days dedicated to wearing Christmas attire, Christmas bling and Christmas colors. Of course, all week, the table in the break room has loaded with Christmas cookies and assorted Christmas snacks.
There was a plaque I saw at a craft mall that read “This is as merry as I get.” I liked that. I’m no Scrooge or Grinch, but I chose to be festive on the inside.
Ho, ho, ho.
But, I did go out and buy a Christmas necktie (I found a tasteful one, not one of those loud, garish ones) and I do own a Grinch T-shirt. I might also have one or two red-and-green articles of clothing.
I have also made some Christmas observations.
One, don’t go to Wal-Mart on Black Friday. This was the first and last year I will do that.
This is not a dig at the massive retailer. It is a dig at the sad state of the American condition. At stores, brawls broke out, ball bats were wielded and near riots ensued as shoppers rushed for their treasures like the French storming the Bastille.
I mean that store was shoulder-to-shoulder humanity.
Word of advice – if you chose to go, wear Kevlar, carry one of the Plexiglas shields cops staring down an “Occupy Wall Street” mob carry, and brace yourself for the water cannons.
Two, 27 years of marriage takes some of the mystery out of Christmas. It also takes some of the guess work out of it as well. My wife and I have been married this long (not that it feels like 27 years, dear. It feels as though our wedding took place only yesterday. Whew!).
As kids, we all look forward with eager anticipation to Christmas morning to tear into the wrapped wonders under the tree. As husband and wife, we go out and buy our own gifts, tell our spouse to do the same then let them know what we bought. We have each other wrap each other’s gifts and act surprised when we open them.
“Wow, I had no idea! Thanks, honey. This is exactly what I wanted.”
Three, kids equal Christmas. By the time our first child came along, I had lost my sense of holiday inspiration. Life came along and trumped the season.
But, with that first came the chance to relive those youthful Christmas memories again, and help create them anew for our own family.
Four, after the third child, the shine begins to wear off that star. They grew up and started asking for game consoles, smart phones and laptops. For you new parents out there, these cost considerably more than Legos, talking stuffed animals and bikes with training wheels.
Five, state out of a mall, any mall, the week before Christmas.
Six, if you are a parent and are lucky enough to have kids old enough to no longer want to sit on Santa Claus’ lap, count your blessings. If you don’t refer to observation five.
I was in a mall recently (I know, I violated one of my own Christmas rules). Santa sat amid all the glitzy shops and just across from the food court. He had an overstuffed chair for a throne positioned against a backdrop featuring a photo of a cozy living room. The thick, pungent smell of pretzels, pine needles and assorted holiday candles hung in the air.
A line of weary moms, dads and grandparents with their children or grandchildren in tow coiled like a piece of that obnoxious, sticky Christmas ribbon candy. There were kids standing, in strollers and draped all over the adults. Some fidgeted. Some cried. Some screamed.
Seven, 40 some years and I still tear up when the Grinch’s heart grows by three times and when Charlie Brown returns with his sad little Christmas tree. I also tear up when George Bailey realizes it really is a wonderful life.
These holiday classics continue to ground me and return me to my youth. They also remind me of the true wonder, awe and meaning of the season. Corny, I know, but I am not really the calloused cynic that I my appear to be.
Dale Hogg is the managing editor of the Great Bend Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com.