The words uttered by John McCain and his “economic advisor”, former Senator Phil Gramm about the economy were not only wrong-headed, but show an utter and complete lack of understanding of the problems millions of ordinary Americans are facing. The fact that a majority of voters felt that the Republicans are out of touch and tone deaf on the bread and butter issues we deal with on an everyday basis was evident on the night of Nov. 4. Now, what does this have to do with Christmas stories , you say? Here is my Christmas story.
With my company laying off most of the workers, including yours truly, “time outs” are the preferred term, 2 weeks in September, a week in October, 2 more weeks in November, and 2 weeks in December, my family is looking at another low-budget Christmas season in 2008. Unemployment insurance is providing an income those weeks, so we are more fortunate than many. We are not going without heat or food, even a small luxury once in awhile, so I am thankful for that. gasoline prices are way down and I’m driving less with no job to go to those weeks. As I said earlier, we consider ourselves fortunate for so many other people are laid off, some are running out of unemployment benefits, facing foreclosure on their home and other calamities.
In spite of the title of this article, we are not “blue” this Christmas. Inexplicably, Arkansas is a mostly Democratic state in everything but Presidential elections. John McCain visited the state, Barack Obama did not, that explains some of it. Arkansas has gone for the GOP in 7 of the last 10 Presidential elections, so don’t assume that it’s strictly race related. Getting George W. Bush out of the White House, decent man that he may be, is a fine Christmas present to the nation and world in 2009.
So where does that leave our family in Christmas 2008? Mystified that so many Americans are duped by the likes of Bill O’Reilly into believing that Christmas is about a “culture war” or a “War on Christmas” because some prefer to say “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings”, not knowing whether the person being addressed is a Christian or whatever. I’ve got news for you folks, Christmas long ago became about gifts, Black Friday, eggnog, Christmas parties and ultra-commercialization. I wrote an earlier article you might find interesting on the origins of Christmas as the secular world knows it on the “Merry Christmas” controversy. Read and enjoy!
While there is nothing wrong with many of these things in moderation, the story of Christmas is supposed to be about the birth of Jesus, and peace and goodwill to men. If you elect to not believe in Jesus, that’s your right, Christmas can still be a good reason for celebration rather than a harangue about Christmas greetings and debates about manger scenes, etc.
My earliest Christmas stories are of one of the few White Christmases I can recall. My cousin Steve, in from St. Louis, and I threw snowballs at cars passing my Grandmothers’ house. We were fortunate that no one got out and told our Mammy, as we called her. We would have gotten a stern lecture and I would have gotten the seat of my pants warmed if she had told my Dad.
The Christmas stories I cherish the most are the Christmases I had growing up, with my two sisters and my parents before their divorce. I can’t remember what material items I received for the most part, but the times we had as a family are what stand out.
When my sisters starting having children of their own, 3 boys each, Christmas changed and it was fun to see the little fellows, now grown, experiencing Christmas stories of their own.
The one Christmas story that stands out right now is the one two years ago, when my wife and I experienced our first Christmas season as parents, having adopted a then 10 year old boy in November of 2006. It was a joy watching him opening gifts on Christmas morning. My wife had hidden the mountain bike she got me, along with our new son’s BMX bicycle. Even on a cold morning, the two of us had to try out our gifts We still use these gifts, not as often as we should, but when we ride those bikes, my mind goes back to that first Christmas with the three of us.
However, when it comes to Christmas stories, one of my favorite Christmas songs of recent years, not being a “traditionalist”, I add new songs to my favorites list every year, is not strictly a Christmas song per se, but Better Days by the Goo Goo Dolls sums up where I am in my personal Christmas story these days.
You asked me what I want this year
and I try to make this kind and clear
just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days
’cause I don’t need boxes wrapped in strings
and designer love and empty things
just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days
so take these words and sing out loud
’cause everyone’s forgiven now
’cause tonight’s the night the world begins again
That’s my christmas story and I’m sticking to it.
Here’s wishing you and yours a safe and Happy Holiday season, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy Hanukkah. Remember the reason for the season and prayers for the family of the young man in New York who was trampled to death on Black Friday. If we can keep Christmas in perspective and not just focus on the commercialism of the Holiday, hopefully his death may not have been in vain.