As I look back over Christmas celebrations which started the day after Thanksgiving, I could easily convince myself that Christmas has indeed become a non-event. First came the ads on television advertising so called “black Friday” sales just after Thanksgiving. But really folks, how many of you go to a store to shop for Christmas gifts anymore? Everyone knows that the real sales in the so called “brick and mortar” stores come after Christmas when unsold merchandise really gets marked down to make way for spring clothes. Then the real shoppers, armed with gift cards that they have received for Christmas, start to get serious about buying bargains.
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has become the premier time for marketing people to stuff your mailbox with all kinds of Christmas catalogs. No need to hang your Christmas stocking out on the mailbox. These people will find your mailbox even if you are protected by a firewall on your computer and your mailbox is buried under seven feet of snow selling you all kinds of things that normal people wouldn’t buy for themselves but somehow seem to have great appeal as Christmas gifts. For example; an outdoor heated cat shelter, an advanced foot/leg stimulator, or perhaps a germ and mold destroying air purifier. For the sports minded there is a fish catching RC boat, a seated whole body peddler, and osteoarthritis under clothing knee brace. New this year is the air powered instant plunger powered by a CO2 cartridge in case your toilet gets plugged from over bingeing on Christmas dinners. And I haven’t even gotten to the usual catalogs which feature sweaters, slippers, sleepwear, and “spread the joy” jams and jellies.
And then just as your recycle barrel is filled to the top with Christmas catalogs, the appeals for money arrive. I always look at each one, hoping to find some usable item such as an attached nickel or dime, or perhaps a Christmas card that I can send, or even a couple of dollars from folks who hope that you will return their money along with an additional $35 dollars and a 50 cent US stamp so that they don’t have to pay the return postage. I have never heard of so many childhood diseases, different types of cancers, or so many homeless or hungry people in all my life. I occasionally have to escape this parade of begging letters and go to Wal-Mart to place a dollar in Santa’s pot. At least I know that Santa is earning a minimum wage for doing what he is doing and he usually wishes me a Merry Christmas even if I decide to not to put a dollar in his pot.
Perhaps the needy in our country (I don’t deny that there are folks who do need our help at Christmas time and all through the year) could be satisfied if the Federal government issued special shipping stamps for catalogs sent in the month of December and then turned over half of the proceeds to veterans and homeless folks who have been left out because of poor government policy.
There was Christmas joy in my house this year. My wife and I went to church the Sunday before Christmas. We sang Christmas songs and thanked the Lord for the blessings that we have received throughout the year and especially for the birth of his Son. We meet again on Christmas Eve to participate in the traditional candle lighting service. There was special music by our newly formed choir, by the children, and even by the minister himself. We took up an offering for the children of Haiti who have nothing as much of their island was destroyed by a hurricane this year. After the service we had coffee and cookies in the fellowship hall and exchanged Christmas gifts of less than $5. The old folks reminisced about Christmases past as the children were full of joy and excitement in anticipation of opening their presents the next morning.
On the day after Christmas we traveled to my son’s home for our family Christmas celebration and gift exchange. My step grandson and his wife were there too. He is on leave for the Christmas holiday and we were able to thank a professional military man for his service to our country. What he does is not easy and reminded us of all the bumps and pot holes that we had to overcome during our civilian careers.
And so we look forward to the New Year. We have learned from last year but know that we can’t change anything that has happened in the past. We are most thankful for our good health as we look forward to another year of living in this beautiful region called the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. And maybe our Christmas celebration would become the shining light that it was meant to be if we could limit the celebrations to just one week.