This time of year, people around the world are very concerned about the possibility of things happening above our heads. Maybe it's a jolly fellow in an airborne sleigh, or angels dancing happily on clouds, or a bright star guiding the way to a new hope for mankind.
Maybe it's the hope of falling snowflakes and the dream of a white Christmas.
Maybe the mounting bills of the holiday season have us feeling a little bit like we're in over our heads.
It's amazing to me that, come January, we don't all have cricks in our necks from constantly looking skyward for the previous month-and-a-half.
Now, I have been accused of being a "Scrooge," a "Grinch," and other things around this holiday season because I have been known to get a little jaded about the rampant consumerism, the self-righteous (and often hypocritical) religious posturing, and the glut of really, really bad made-for-cable Christmas movies.
However, I suppose I should let these things go. For some people, this holiday is all about the shopping, and I guess that is their right. And what's religion for if not to periodically wrap oneself in a blanket of myopic fervor. (Though I will confess I get a certain sardonic pleasure out of the blank stares when I mention the Holy Roman Emperor Constantine, Saturnalia, and September 29th.)
And I guess even a bad movie about the spirit of giving and goodwill is better than the usual TV movie-of-the-week fare. (There is no excuse, however, for making two - count 'em two - movies about Steve Guttenberg as Santa Claus.)
Rather than spend any more time talking about what I don't like about this season, I think it's time to talk about what I do like.
I love Christmas carols (in season). I like them best when sung by Dino, Frank, Tony, Mel, Burl or Bing.
I love A Christmas Carol. It's about the only Dickens story I enjoy, and my favorite filmed version is the 1985 George C. Scott masterpiece. (I also really like Scrooged, the updating of the story with Bill Murray.) The story only pops up around the holidays, because of its titular value, but, remember, Scrooge transforms his life for the other 364 days of the year as well. It's a great story about it never being too late to change one's life for the better, and I just love it.
I love Christmas lights and decorations. I love the smell of cinnamon and hot cider, of pine needles and gingerbread. I love "The Night Before Christmas," and have been lauded for my rendition of "The Cajun Night Before Christmas."
Every year, I read the "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" letter from the editor from the 1897 New York Sun, in particular, the passages:
"Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence."
And of course, "A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."
Santa Claus is the best! Admittedly, the myth of a magical fellow who gives gifts to good children all over the world can be a bit troublesome for families on a budget and kids with long lists, but the idea of Santa is, well, magical.
The way that kids' faces light up at the sight of Mr. Claus is unlike anything I've ever seen. Yes, some kids get a bit frightened of the big guy, but a good "Santa" knows that you save the loud "Ho Ho Hos" for entrances and exits and to speak softly when the little ones are on his lap. (Yes, I have been known to don the beard and hat. Didn't see that one coming, didja?)
So, this holiday season, whichever holiday is yours, and whether your celebration is devout or more secular, traditional or modern, just remember that the best present to your loved ones is to be . . . present, in body (if you can), mind, and spirit.
Stress is a matter of choice.
Stress is a matter of choice.
Holidays are meant to be enjoyed.
Tis the season to be jolly.
Happy Holidays, my little cherubs.