By Craig Funston
There’s nothing like Christmas music, lights and other decorations, as well as the ubiquitous Boxing Day sales, to get one in the mood for Christmas. Christmas plays, snowflakes, and Aunt Bob’s early December Christmas card will likewise do it every time.
It’s just the frantic antics that start in August that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
While it may not quite be “the most wonderful time of the year” for some, it’s pretty close. However, if and when I slow down to relax for a week or two (aka Christmas holidays), I would rather do it with a sand shovel, not a snow shovel.
I have celebrated (almost) 59 Christmases. My early ones—you know, the ones that are all about gifts and food, and food and gifts—are, of course, an unfortunate blur. I do have fond recollections of my dad’s folks (those Irish Funstons), Uncle Bob, and Mom’s always-delicious Christmas turkey dinner. My paternal grandparents have been gone for forty-five years or so, as has Uncle Bob, and I have a wife that cooks like my mother.
I was raised in a home where we had no Christmas tree, no Christmas lights, and few Christmas trappings that many today deem essential to the season. Well, let me re-state that: We didn’t have all the clutter and mutter that my generation and the next generation feel are must-haves for Christmas.
But we had fun, food, and warm fuzzies. I venture to say that there are hundreds of families today that would exchange their present experiences at Christmas for said fun, food and warm fuzzies. Can’t prove that point outright, of course, but I do see it on their faces.
Christmas is tough for a lot of people, what with physical ailments that aren’t going away and family life that is fractured. And the pressure to be excited and upbeat when one is anything but is a stretch for many. That may be not what I feel, but it is certainly what I see.
My take on Christmas is that it does bring out both the best and worst in many people. Worst? Too often people are forced to pay for things they can’t afford, say things they don’t mean, and celebrate an event they don’t believe in. Best? Lots of warm thoughts of others, and taking time out for the people they love.
Good, bad, or ugly, celebrating Christmas appropriately has always been an issue with me, as many of you well know. An analogy is in order here: When the Grey Cup was celebrated a few weeks ago, there were three types of people present–‘Rider fans, Ticat fans, and CFL party animals.
The connection? Glad you asked! There are those who genuinely believe that God came down in the form of the Babe in Bethlehem; then there are those who don’t, but like to at least celebrate family, gift-giving, and other wholesome Christmas traditions; and finally (and these would be akin to the “CFL party animals”), there those who see it as an excuse for excessive drinking, partying, and spending, spending, and…spending.
Even many Christian people, and I’m one of them, have strayed far from the origins of that remarkable event, over 2000 years ago. What we do as a family has little bearing on that stinky stable, with a few country folk (also known as shepherds), somewhere in the back end of a Jewish roadhouse. Maybe this is more of a confession than a column.
My plea today is for you to make Christmas special and significant. How? Have someone who is without family to be part of your family during the holidays. Or look around your circle of relationships and have someone who’s lonely over for a games night, a good movie, or even just eggnog.
Man, I’d say I’m lonely enough just to get the free eggnog.
Regardless, I think this is the spirit of Christmas that we need to reclaim (whether you’re a student of history or humanity)–namely, thinking of others, leaving your comfort zone, and bringing peace wherever you go.
Makes me think of a certain Someone Who did just that a couple thousand years ago.