by Neva Bodin
Christmas is a going
And the ads are coming still
Please to put a dollar
In the big store’s till
If you haven’t got a dollar
As you look at Christmas bills
Use the ads to start a fire and
With warmth your heart fills.
(Sung to the tune of “Christmas Is A Coming”)
Would we get a paper on Christmas? Half hoping the paper staff got a holiday, and half hoping I’d have a paper with some funnies to read, I stepped out on the front step at 5:30 AM Christmas morning and found a paper. The front page had the Christmas story according to St. Luke, although it wasn’t on their web site. And lo, a small, but significant, pile of ads fell out.
The “one day, opening at 7 AM, after Christmas sale” is on. I’ve hardly had time to savor the memories of looking for the perfect gift before Christmas, and now I feel compelled to go find bargains for next Christmas, which I’ll have forgotten I bought, and won’t seem like the right thing to get by then. I have a big plastic box on the top shelf of my closet that has been almost filled with gifts that never seemed to find their time.
This year, I wrapped and gave some of them, ready or not, along with what seemed timelier of course, and donated some of those wondrous gifts to the second-hand store before Christmas. It’s freeing.
I’m not sure why we get a daily paper. Perhaps after years of farming, and not having a daily paper delivered to our door, we still haven’t gotten over the thrill of that luxury, even though it’s 18 years later.
I don’t usually read the police calls, but today I did. There were a number of suicide calls. Were the people successful or were they taken somewhere safe? I wondered. I have been on call for psych emergencies on a Christmas Eve. And yes, between the holiday blues and alcohol and drugs, there will always be attempted suicides.
How can we indoctrinate in our young children that holidays, any holiday, is meant to give us hope, teach us to give thanks, or bring honor to someone who deserves to be honored for something good? They are not days where we should set unrealistic goals for ourselves or our loved ones.
Loved ones who are usually grouches or scrooges, will not become generous and loving for one day. (Although I saw more smiles at Walmart when I was shopping two days before Christmas than I have ever seen there I think.) And grief and sadness can become stronger, if we don’t hold onto the real reasons for the holidays—to celebrate someone’s life or give thanks for the positive things we do have.
And how do we teach our children that the best treatment for sadness is to do something for someone else?
Our adult hospice grief group celebrated the lives of loved ones who died by decorating clear glass tree ornaments with ribbons and crystals—ribbons of a different color for an emotion, some with messages written on them, perhaps even a dark ribbon of grief, and crystals for memories. They were beautiful.
Sad things will happen on holidays; some we create, and some we have to endure. But I believe, remembering why we have a particular holiday, will lessen the power tragedy might have on dimming the joy we can also have in the holiday.
And if you need cheering up, get up at 7 AM the day after, and look for a bargain with that last dollar in your pocket! Or start a fire with the ads “that will warm the cockles of your heart.”