Thursday, December 25, 2014

How I've Taken Back Christmas

When I was a young boy, like virtually everyone else I know, I loved Christmas. I couldn't wait to open all of my presents and eat the huge meal. I loved setting up the Christmas tree. The Christmas season meant snow, and if it was a particularly snowy year, it meant snow days. Everything about Christmas was magical.

Somewhere along the line, Christmas lost its magic. I think it started in my teen years, when I was too old for toys, so I got clothes for Christmas. Now please don't get me wrong, there's nothing inherently wrong with getting clothing for Christmas, but I've never been much of a fashionista, so I never got excited about getting clothes for Christmas.

By the time I was a young adult, I had reached the point where I really didn't like Christmas all that much. I hated the commercialism that caused Thanksgiving to virtually disappear. I hated the artificial cheer. I hated spending Christmas alone, and I hated traveling halfway across the country to spend Christmas with my family in the cold, cold Midwest. I was this way for a very, very long time.

Even when I moved back to the Midwest, and had children of my own, the Christmas spirit didn't return, because buying for children meant busting the budget. Christmas meant shoveling snow from my sidewalk and scraping frost and ice from my windows, it meant long lines at the store, and the stress of finding the right gift for my picky (first) wife who let me know in no uncertain terms when I missed the target.

I have spent many years raging against the commercialism of Christmas. I was a card carrying member of the "Put Christ back in Christmas" campaign. But no matter what I said or did, I didn't like Christmas. Over the years, that changed. Somewhere along the line, I realized that I didn't need to change society; I needed to change myself, and I did.

I guess the first thing I really did was make Christmas personal for my family and me. I started purchasing Christmas ornaments for my girls... Christmas ornaments that represented them specifically. When I got remarried, I extended this tradition to my wife. I think this is our favorite tradition. It certainly is mine.

I adjusted my attitude about Christmas gifts. I have learned to appreciate the effort placed into purchasing gifts that I have received, and I have started trying to find the right gift for the recipient. I also don't sweat the budget aspect as much. I still have a budget, but since I make a little more, the budget is larger, and I don't worry as much if I slightly exceed it.

I have come to realize that the "artificial" Christmas cheer isn't so fake after all. By and large, most people saying "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" really mean it. It would be nice if we could be this kind year round, but I'll take what I can get. In return, I have come to say "Merry Christmas" and genuinely mean it as well.

I have also remembered, and really internalized, that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus, which is significant to me. I do realize that Christ probably wasn't born on December 25. I realize that Christians morphed from a pagan holiday. That's okay. I also realize that Christmas is still a very secular event for the majority of the population. That too is okay.

You see, what killed Christmas for me was that I had been focusing on the trappings of the season, not the season itself. I had been focusing on what was wrong with the time of year, and was angry that society didn't bend to my will. What brought it back was the realization that I didn't need to change the world, I needed to change myself. Christmas was once again wonderful when I realized, nay remembered, that it's not about the gifts, it's about the relationships. That, my friends, is how I've taken back Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Little Satire for your Wednesday

They say that a ring represents love because because, like a circle, love has no beginning and no end.

Yep.  A ring also represents love because it's hollow.  I should have bought my first wife a line segment.  (A little something for you math nerds out there.)  You know, something with a definite beginning and end.  Or maybe a line... of coke.  That's about how long the marriage lasted.

(Justice of the Peace)  "Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live?"

(Me) "I do."

(JP) "Do you take this man to be your husband, for as long as this line shall last?"

(The bride) "Yep" [sniff]

(JP) "I now pronounce you man and wife."

(The bride) "I want a divorce."