Christmas Is being at home smelling cedar shavings, feeling the heat of the den fire and listening to wood crackle while it burns.
Christmas Is the December wind spitting snow, the taste of fruit cake, turkey, homemade gravy, cranberries, oranges and nuts, eggnog and all its companion “spirits,” country ham, fruit ambrosia, and homemade breads and cakes taken to the office.
Christmas Is cards and gifts, Santa Claus, the infant Jesus at the nativity scene, mistletoe, colored, lights, singing carols, door wreaths, Salvation Army bells, parties, laughter, shirts and sox of the wrong size, and neckties of screaming colors.
Christmas Is reunions of friendship and families, telling tales of yore and other lies, worrying about grades, sleeping late, booze, stockings, churches, kids and shoplifters.
Christmas Is cash registers, foot long receipts for a one item purchase, gift certificates, tired feet, frustrated gift lists, raw fingers, sticky tongues, sore throats, stolen kisses, lipstick on the collar, agonizing with mother-in-law, broken trains and mismatched Lego’s, and stopped-up drain pipes.
Christmas Is the season of contrasts and extremes. It is the time of the year when the rich seem richer, and the poor realize how bad off they really are. It is the time when parents are happiest when their young surround them. And it is a time when childless couples are their loneliest.
Christmas Is that time of year when Mama is never tired and Poppa is never more broke, when poverty is stripped nude and ugly by the Christmas tree lights. It’s the time when laughter and tears come more honestly and are more meaningful than ever before. It’s the time when food tastes better to those who have it, and is missed most by those who don’t.
Christmas Is a time when insincere and shallow politicians grapple with politically correct labels, and tremble about using the words “Christmas tree,” “Christmas lights” or “Christmastime.”
Christmas Is Andy Williams singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” Bing Crosby humming “Silent Night,” Barbara Streisand singing the “Ave Maria” and recalling the favorite times we heard those songs.
Christmas Is surviving the rock and roll versions of “I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus,” the monotonous versions of “Jingle Bells” and murderous renditions of “Joy To The World
— all provided by the senior citizens choir.
Christmas Is applauding the kazoo toots of the Red Hat Ladies and the honored recollections of treasured friends at the VFW and American Legion.
Christmas Is the season to be jolly … jolly about kids acting like kids and getting lots of company from grownups. And jolliest of all are businessmen who go home Christmas Eve with year-end bonus visions of Honolulu and grass skirts doing the sugarplum dance in their heads.
Christmas Is a time of hypocrisy, a time when the fortunate give toys and food to the poor, when those who remain on welfare give birth to more unfortunate children, when a guy’s mother-in-law never looked better, when cards are mailed to creeps so we’re not labeled a sour puss scrooge, when sympathy is given to the postman and the newspaper delivery guy because they are an hour late.
Christmas Is that time of year when our fighting men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan would prefer to shoulder their arms because some believe killing people on Christmas is internationally recognized as being in bad taste.
But of all things “Christmas Is,” it should not be just a special day. For no matter how merry are the parties, the best gathering of all is a family being together on Christmas morning.
So, let’s not dwell on whether we can save the real meaning of Christmas, or whether we have only misplaced it.
Let’s dwell on how we make this special day every day of the year, when we forgive our enemies, honor our friends, spend uninterrupted time with the children, go to church and pray for peace.
Christmas should be every day!
Jim Charlet is a retired newspaper editor, Brentwood resident, and has written this annual column since 1968.