By Todd Lancaster
The older I get, the better my perspective on Christmas has become — as in all I really want for Christmas are two stress-free days.
My kids are grown, and my parents are older now, so I know there is no Santa Claus — and I also know when the January credit card bills arrive.
I have lived through the “War on Christmas” and watched people try to buy love and affection with massive debt. I have seen parents who try to spend the exact same amount on each child down to the dollar and stress out when they don’t, making them feel even worse.
I’ve seen children tear through presents just to get to the next one, I have watched hordes of shoppers buy strictly because something is on sale. There are fights in parking lots and liquor sales skyrocket, just so folks can “endure” the season. There are fights over politics, and the airing of grievances that may have festered for years.
For years, my holidays have consisted of covering holiday basketball games, and when I was still a young father, packing kids into an SUV with books, playpens, jumpy seats, toys, clothes, dogs, presents and food to simply unload everything at several destinations further down the road.
I don’t know about you, but none of that sounds much like a holiday. I’m not a deeply religious person, so I’m not going to dig into the “true meaning of Christmas,” but I will present at least one alternative.
As I see it, Christmas is a two-day Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday.
I really like the thought of families getting together to spend time with each other. Food, fun, catching up with relatives, watching sports or maybe a long walk after a big meal (which sounds a lot like Thanksgiving) would be the perfect Christmas. We have tried the gift exchanges with extended family, but they just become gift certificate exchanges and that doesn’t Make Christmas Great Again. Christmas is about attitude.
My community has a six-week lighted Christmas display that absolutely is the highlight of my holiday season. I can’t tell you how many times I have driven through the local park with no other agenda other than to enjoy the lights. Some are religious, some are not, but it is a wonderful display. I love walking downtown and seeing wreaths and hearing Christmas music. It doesn’t cost anything and I don’t think it offends anyone.
I think that today, where political maneuvering tries to make Christmas into a cultural battleground, we need to remove ourselves from the fray.
Try to be nice, try to do something unexpected for someone else, remember those who are lonely or work over the holiday. Give what you can and appreciate what others do for you. Sit quietly and look at the decorations, talk to your children, have a glass of wine and try to remember it’s supposed to be a holiday. Christmas is what you want it to be, not what others expect you to make it.