Join Date: Oct 2004
A Christmas miracle, by DonCT
Published the week before Christmas in a 8,000 paid circulation weekly paper
Christmas season off to a late start
For me, the Christmas season got off to a late start. That seems to be the norm these days.
Some people never lose touch with their inner child, the one that waits up on Christmas Eve in eager anticipation of unwrapping gifts. I don't know what happened to mine - he's getting tougher and tougher to find.
Since I don't have children of my own to indulge for Christmas, I have to make do with what I do have, which is younger sisters.
Years of training have finally paid off - they no longer submit their wish lists to me. It's too bad, really, since so much work went into those compilations. In later years, they even began sorting by individual stores, with jewelry grouped together on page 12 for my convenience.
Recently, though, gift-giving has evolved. I have started an annual tradition of taking my sisters shopping for my mother each year. It is quite rewarding to see them change their focus from "What are you going to get me" to "What can we get mom?"
My mother, of course, knows the reason we go out shopping. She even lays out the cash for my sisters' shopping spree, as they are both too young for jobs. Of course, in my opinion, she is missing out on a golden opportunity. Since they are shopping for Christmas and birthday gifts for her, it stands to reason that the more cash the girls have, the better gifts they can afford. Simple, right?
But this year's shopping spree is not until next week, and the Grinch is at my house now. Or rather, he was at my house until Sunday.
Before I got married, Christmas decorating was a simple affair, consisting of removing the fake tree (with last year's lights still attached) from the closet of my two-room apartment. Placing the fake tree on an end table, I would plug it in and Voila! Holiday cheer.
Now, my wife Maggie and I are about to mark our first Christmas in the house we purchased in April and the halls, they are decked. I had no part in this for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that I am not qualified to hang garland. (Guy Rule #37 - feigned incompetence gets you out of work. She thinks I can't rake leaves or do laundry either.)
Picking out the tree was another affair. Braced against the cold, we picked out a Douglas fir and stashed it in the car like a bound kidnapping victim. Using a series of words that I did not learn at Christmas church services, I finally got it set up and skulked off to play video games.
That was when the magic happened.
Drawn by the persistent scent of pine, I ventured upstairs. The sound of hokey carols on the stereo grew louder. Holiday potpourri simmered on the mantle, and the tree was ablaze in light.
Maggie was hanging the last of the decorations, and I spent nearly an hour looking at and handling each one.
I always laughed at my parents' trees, decorated, as they were, with poorly crafted ornaments. Most of these ornaments had come from one school fair or another. Others were art class projects carried out with a degree of artistry you would expect of a writer.
Covered with amateurish clothespin and string ornaments, my parents' tree would have made the editors at "House Beautiful" weep in despair. Now I get it.
Most of the ornaments on our tree are handmade, though they aren't white glue and paper creations of school children. Instead, we have delicate glass balls, each of which represents something unique and tells a story. There is one from the Eastern States Exposition, with two snowmen on a sled, arms wrapped around each other. "Our First Christmas," it says.
Another features a winter scene with smoke curling from the chimney of a snow-covered house. "First Christmas as Mr. and Mrs." is on the side. Chateau le Frontenac adorns another glass ball, along with "Quebec 2005." Still more decorations have scenes from Cincinnati, Greenfield, New Hampshire, the White House and other places Maggie and I have visited in the last few years.
Sitting in my living room with a steaming mug of herb tea with honey, I gave in. Ho, ho, ho.
The following day I jingled all the way to the Long Hill fire company's toy drive, where I saw something I never expected.
Sure, Santa was there and children were coming up to sit on his lap. There was a twist, though: children were bringing gifts to Santa. Firefighters then took the gifts and loaded them onto a truck for distribution to disadvantaged children.
That made me feel good. That made me want to take my sisters shopping for the perfect gift for our mother. Break out the eggnog - I'm ready now.
This column reflects the opinion of Editor Donald Eng and does not necessarily represent the views of Hometown Publications.
Christmas season off to a late start
Libertarian, gun-toting journalist.