Friday, December 12, 2008

I hate Christmas (& other ramblings)

I hate Christmas. There. I said it. I feel better already. No, I'm not Scrooge or the Grinch. I hate what we, the adults of the world, have let Christmas become--a massive, commercial, money-grabbing spend-fest of Crapapalooza where the only pertinent question is, "Whadja get me?" It stinks. And God help us, it seems to get worse every year.

I hate the fact that we have lost sight of what this season is supposed to be about. We've turned what should be the most joyous time of the year into a selfish, self-centered, greed-a-thon. I hate that millions of people are going to spend this day alone, hungry and in despair. I hate that untold numbers of children world-wide are going to wake up, tear open millions of gifts, eat themselves into a stupor and never once think about the reason for the celebration. I hate that their stupid parents never think to explain it to them. I hate the fact that so many have so much while so many more have nothing. Please don't think that makes me one of those "redistribute the wealth" guys. Far from it. The only things that need redistributing are personal responsibility, hard work and love for your family. There definitely aren't enough of those to go around.

The stereotype is 100% true. Being of Scotch-Irish descent, I have a melancholy streak a foot wide. I think this is a big factor contributing to our reputations as drinkers and hellions. We let things get to us. I let things get to me. Of all the heartwarming, happy things that go on at Christmas, somehow I dwell on the sad, sorrowful stories that surface this time of year. But let me tell you this: I will not let it depress me or make me an unhappy person. Being happy is a choice. The only thing you have to do to be happy is want to. If you're sitting around waiting for someone else to make you happy, you're in for a long wait. I refuse to let anybody or any set of circumstances have that kind of power over me. I'm going to be happy if it kills me. And if I'm not, nobody is ever going to know it. What happens in the Hub stays in the Hub.

Let me tell you something else I hate. I hate these new-age bozos who tell their kids there is no Santa Claus. What idiots! There's nobody more real than old Saint Nick. Okay, okay, maybe the jolly fat guy with a white beard and the reindeer and elves may be a bit of a stretch, but you've got to realize that it's symbolism. The real Santa lives in all of us, or at least he used to (you murdering heathens know who you are). He's the guy inside you who picks out that special something that makes somebody very, very happy. He's the little voice who tells you to show up some place where you're unexpected, but very welcome when you get there. He's the feeling you get when you realize the best gift you got was the look on the faces of the people you love. He's the amazed exhilaration you feel when you finally get it. When you finally realize this season is not about you, but about what you can do for somebody else. And more importantly, what somebody has already done for you. Yeah, Santa Claus is real and I hope and pray he lives in the heart of mankind forever.

I love Christmas. I love the sights, the sounds, the smells and the traditions. I love the gathering of family and the feeling of belonging to something bigger than yourself. I love the anticipation and the looks on kids' faces. I love the fact that for a few days we are kinder, gentler, more considerate people than we normally are. I love the idea that for a few days we ask "How are you?" and maybe really mean it. I love people who say "Merry Christmas" instead of the politically correct "Happy Holidays." I love the brave souls who spit in the eye of liberal courts and the ACLU and proudly display their nativity scenes and open references to God in their Christmas celebrations. I love the fact that millions of people still remember the real reason for the season. A guy named Mark said it best a long time ago:
"Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.'"
Happy Birthday, Jesus.

The Old Gray Lion

This month's suggested reading: "Salvation on Sand Mountain" by Dennis Covington. The photographs and text will absolutely take your breath. Dennis Covington was assigned to cover a trial involving some snake handlers. He wound up joining in and handling himself. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure all Dennis' dogs are tied to the same leash. But this is a great book. By the way, Dennis is a professor of creative writing at UAB.

This month's suggested movie: "Scrooged" starring Bill Murray. A Christmas classic.