Thursday, December 22, 2011


I’ve always felt that Christmas should be celebrated in a certain way. It has been my philosophy for many years, but this is the first year that I have properly conveyed my thoughts to my family and friends.

Here it is: I do not want to do any running around, shopping or gift-wrapping for at least two full days prior to Christmas. By December 23rd it's time to relax and to really start enjoying the holiday.

First, let me make it clear that I love Christmas. Love everything about it. Love the family traditions, the music, the gift-giving and the spiritual meaning behind the holiday. And with two young children, having Santa coming to our house makes it even more fun and more special. But one thing I’ve realized as I've gotten older is that while we often spend a full month getting ready for Christmas, the big day itself can sometimes feel like a letdown. Christmas morning is fun. The kids open their gifts from Santa, and you might also exchange gifts with your loved ones. And if you didn’t go to a religious service on Christmas Eve, you might attend church. But let’s face it, by early afternoon, it sometimes feels as if the holiday is already over. And perhaps that’s because our anticipation of Christmas is really what excites us about it. We enjoy buying gifts for people and we hope that they like them. We enjoy the holiday songs, the TV specials, sending out greeting cards and all of the preparation that goes into the celebration. And then – boom – just like that, it’s over.

Well, not for me. I have a plan. My goal is to always be completely finished in preparing for Christmas by Dec. 22nd or 23rd. Done shopping. Done wrapping. No hustle. No bustle. On the final day or two leading up to Christmas, I will relax and enjoy it. I will sit in our home and admire our tree and decorations. I’ll dim the lights, put on a holiday CD by Elvis, Sinatra, Andy Williams or Johnny Mathis, and really listen to the lyrics and enjoy the songs. I’ll watch “A Christmas Carol,” "White Christmas" or “It’s A Wonderful Life,” even if I’ve already seen them during the holiday season. I’ll run the electric train under the tree for the kids as often and as long as they’d like, I’ll re-watch the classic children’s Christmas shows with them – most of which we have on DVD and have been already been playing in our house since the day after Thanksgiving. I will make the time for such things because I will have already made certain that I have the time. And if they want me to read them a few Christmas stories at bedtime, such as “T’was The Night Before Christmas” or “Frosty The Snowman,” I’ll be happy to do it.

This is my philosophy on how Christmas should be celebrated. Enjoy the entire season and all of the things that make it such a special holiday, but don’t put things off so much that the last few days leading up it are too busy. The thought of shopping or even still wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve is unimaginable to me. For weeks, I've dashed to the mall in the evenings or on the weekends and have sometimes spent my lunch hour at work running Christmas errands just so that I would not have to be doing any of it right now. And now, with the holiday just a few days away, it's time to relax at home with the family and visit with the special people in our lives. It's time to enjoy all of the effort that went into making our home look so festive. And on Christmas Eve, it's time to spend a little quiet time thinking about its meaning and its message of peace and brotherhood.

There is a passage in “A Christmas Carol,” towards the very end of the story that describes a then-reformed Ebenezer Scrooge. It tells of how, after his three ghostly encounters on Christmas Eve, he always “knew how to keep Christmas well.”

Well, you now know how I try to keep Christmas well. And I also advise that you too try to slow down a bit and enjoy the next day or two as we prepare for the celebration. Try to get things done by Friday evening so that you too can have a most merry, merry Christmas.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year.