Tuesday, December 19, 2006

XMAS - The whirl, the blur, the pause, the peace

by M. M. Walker
(This Christmas column of mine ran in two small newspaper quite a few years ago. It's also been posted on my website.)

The Christmas holiday comes in so many subtle flavors. What does Christmastime mean to you?

Snow, twinkle lights, the scent of pine boughs, mistletoe, mulled cider, spiced eggnog, apple wood on the fire... Family caring, togetherness, visitors, carols, candlelight services, Christmas parades, children's smiles, warm fuzzy feelings about goodness in the world, hope... Tree chopping, trimming, broken ornaments crunching underfoot, getting the lights right, the tinsel straight, the cat/dog/baby tipping the tree... Shopping, fretting, having no money, worrying they won't like it, that it's not good enough, wrapping, scotch tape stuck on your shoes, on the cat...

Rushing, children's demands, store after store after store, wrapping, wishing it were over, charging it with regrets, refusing to admit to the kids/neighbors/ in-laws/your mother that we can't afford it, and paying for it next year at 18 and a half percent... Crowded grocery stores chopping vegetables, raw cookie dough and lumpy gravy, eating too much, or not having enough to eat, not having enough to give, getting a handout and hating it... Loneliness, wishing you had somewhere to go or someone special, wishing you didn't have to go, wishing the company would just go home... Desperately missing people who are not around -- who moved, stayed behind, who deserted or simply died, who linger in vivid memory of past Christmas...

House cleaning -- before and after, irrelevant preparations, celebrations followed by aching weariness and stomach pains because you're in debt... Wishing just once he'd wash dishes instead of buying cologne, self-pity, reminiscing, reverie, foolhardiness, cheer, remorse... The make-it or break-it retail season, profits or maybe losses, precarious prosperity vs chapter 11, lasting til summer vs letting people go in January. Knowing you'll have to and hating it.. Bills, bickering, more bills, endless Charlie Brown specials, meaningless, fleeting, insincere budget-busting sentimentality...


Whoever you are, however good or bad it is for you this year, go right now, this minute, find a someone you care about and give them a hug, because that's the thing that will get you through. And if there isn't a friend or relative, or acquaintance that you care about, at least say something friendly and polite to the very next person you see. If you're home alone, call someone up and wish them well. It's a start.

And if you haven't got any gifts to give, remember that the gift-giving part of Christmas, like the evergreen tree, is just a good old pagan tradition. The Christmas part is where the diety gave something to men. If you are a christian of whatever variety, that's the real meaning of Christmas. And while you're getting glassy-eyed with religious exultation, just remember that us atheists, pagans, cynics, n'er-do-wells and even those democrats and republicans -- they, we all need hugs too.