Lou Rawls said it best in the song that is No. 1 on the Christmas iPod. (Well, it’s not really an iPod, it’s an iPied -- some knock off I bought at Walmart.) "Christmas is children who just can’t go to sleep," Lou belts through that deep baritone of his. But Christmas is other things, isn’t it?
It’s a time to goof off on the job by planning the parties, the secret Santa and the chatter about who is bringing what.
"I’m making Buffalo chicken dip," one is likely to hear by the water cooler. Me? I’m bringing paper plates and cups. That’s easier than having the wife make something for me to bring in.
Christmas is a time for my favorite ghost story, "A Christmas Carol." Like Ebenezer Scrooge, my spirit soars as I change from a cynical nonbeliever into a walking rationale of how there has to be a Santa.
Think about it: During lean years and during years when my pockets were full, Christmas has always come. And there have always been presents under the tree on Christmas morning. So there must be a Santa.
It’s been tight a few years, like this year, but no matter what, Christmas just magically appears every Dec. 25. No matter how little or big your season is, just make merry on the day. It’s a day that hopefully includes family and friends. There’ll be a good meal and a new toy to play with. Every Christmas needs a toy for the family, no matter how old you are.
Sure, Uncle Lee may show up half in the bag and get worse from there. The tree may get knocked down by your brother’s crazy dog, but it will define the memory. Quickly enough, you’ll be saying things like, "Oh that’s the year that Uncle Lee split his head open on the kitchen cabinet and bled into the roast beef."
That’s what Christmas is. It’s not the glorified shopping sprees that people remember. It’s the interaction between the people you love. And yes, sometimes that includes shouting and people storming off from the table. Christmas is all those things, the good, the bad and the egg nog.
It’s like the Christmas Eve when I was beset by a huge kidney stone. After an emergency room visit, I spent Christmas Day listening to my new Pink Floyd box set that I received as a present from Santa and taking Vicodin for the pain. And I wasn’t sure what was making me sicker, the pain meds or the Christmas kidney stone. All that was missing from that Christmas was a hookah pipe. Not a good year, but we made it through it. Yes, sport fans, Christmas is to be endured sometimes.
Money is spread around as if you were laying an expansive cement sidewalk. Christmas costs a lot, even if you hand make presents like we do with my side of the family. There is no alternative. Christmas is, as Lou Rawls should have sung, expensive. No matter what you do, you need things. Gifts, jelly filled cookies and bail if you should have a wild teenager at home. My father said it best when he mixed his metaphors, saying: "Christmas doesn’t grow on trees you know."
If you are an empty nester such as my wife and I, Christmas means that our son moves back in with us for a whole month. If I want to do a Tom Cruse underwear dance to Chuck Berry’s "Run-Run Rudolf," I had better do it now while I still can.
I like Christmas cards, but the number dwindles every year as messages over the computer seem to be enough. Mail your dern cards out, will you please? Because Christmas is that feeling when you get one in the mail or that special day when you get six at once. I hang mine by the tree, proudly showing the thoughtfulness of my friends -- better known as the people I’ve shamed into a card just because I sent them one.
Christmas is all of these things. Embrace the season one and all. For it only comes once a year and it can be the best time of year just because Christmas is Š Thanks, Lou.
Johnnie Carrier is a freelance writer who wishes each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas.