Enjoy the holidays this year


Xmas, bah, humbug vs Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyous Yule, Mary Christmas. My Aunt Irma hated the holidays, so much to do, so little time. My neighbor Marge dreaded the baking, gift buying, wrapping, etc. Uncle Charlie sadly always took out a loan. Sophie always complained about 15 extra pounds. The cat used to run away hearing Jingle Bells for the 243rd time in one week. Folks will fight it out on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and “I Give Up” Wednesdays. Toil, disorganization and havoc ruled. Those folks did not get the right message.

I love Christmas, everything about it. I keep lights up year-round. I listen to carols all year like my Colorado friend, Bethie. I never tire of crowds and last minute shoppers. The adults in our family do it easy, no adult gifts, kids’ only—try it. We don’t buy gifts in July or on December 26th. I love the snow, bustle, music, parties and spirit weeks long. Folks tend to give more. Let’s enjoy it this year. It is truly “better to give than receive.” Right? Well, act on it. If you tithe, aim for 15 percent. Tip extra to minimum wage earners. Tip with $2 bills. Tip the red kettle and give to St. Vinnie’s. Find a neighbor who needs help with a light or water bill. I know of one lady who annually spends thousands on family gifts — the process giving her “joy.” Each friend gets five or six gifts. (Am trying to get on her list.) Do the old fashioned thing — -real U.S. mail cards. Tell yourself to send six or 12 special cards; have the kids make them. Personalize 10 or 15 with pictures. My friend downstate, Ron, is currently wooing his fourth wife; I told him to not buy another engagement ring, but to spend time sponsoring a needy family — he may do that instead. Go sledding. Remember the real “reason for the season.”

I have a friend on Christmas Day who calls about eight people often home-bound and alone and sings “The Secret of Christmas” to them—home run hit. Work a shift for Hope At The Inn — Xmas week help needed always. Give some cops donuts. Buy a garbage man a Coke. Honor a vet. Support the animal shelter. Be like the church and individuals that send local inmates cards. Attend a concert. Play Santa. Dad, build a nativity set. Become an organ donor. Fruit cake anyone? For us kids it was chocolate covered cherries — to this day.

Nostalgia works. Hide the phones and games — for at least 24 hours. Maybe we should have the city turn off the electricity. Let’s relish the Secret of Christmas — “that little gift you gave on Christmas Day will not bring back the friend you’ve turned away, so may I suggest the secret of Christmas is not the things you do at Christmastime, but the Christmas things you do all year through.” However, let’s also do those “Christmas things” now until Jan. 1. Eggnog anyone?

Mike Olsen