Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

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And suddenly it is Christmas, another year nearly in the books. They come around quickly now that I have reached a certain age.

Dec. 25 will cap a Yule season that — in the retail world — began in mid-October. It seems as if every store I entered had Christmas decorations up next to the jack o’ lanterns. I hate to be grinchy, but could we at least hold off on Christmas until after the kids are finished trick or treating?

While I am being curmudgeonly, I am strongly opposed to retail stores opening on Thanksgiving Day, a trend that expanded this year to include most Big Box stores. Boo, hiss. Thanksgiving is for gorging oneself beyond good sense, then watching the Dallas Cowboys and falling asleep by halftime. So now we have Gray Thursday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.
I propose adding Cut-Up-The-Credit Cards Wednesday, for those who overindulge and then wake up in January to maxed-out cards at 22 percent interest. Many years ago, I decided to never charge something I could not pay off in full when the statement arrived, with the exception of a house mortgage. That is one of the wisest decisions I have made.
The older we get, the more Christmas becomes less about presents and more about time spent with family. You reach a certain point in life where more stuff feels more like a burden than a boondoggle.

Our house might not have an official Christmas tree, but the halls and walls are decked. There are four crèches, including one in my study, perched on a stool. It is small, the figures only a couple inches tall. Baby Jesus is about the size of a pecan. The creche is made of ceramic with a hole in the roof of the manger into which one can insert a Christmas tree light to illuminate the season. I never bother to do that; there was no electricity at the original manger, after all.
My parents bought this crèche about the time I was born, more than six decades ago. It graced our house every Christmas, first in Allenstown, N.H., and then in Longview. My mother gave it to me a few years before she died. Someday I will pass it on to one of my daughters. It is a sweet reminder of childhood.

Here is a story from my childhood I retell every few years.
My earliest memory of Christmas is from well more than a half-century ago. We always spent Christmas Eve at my maternal grandparents’ home in Hopkinton, N.H. I was probably 4, maybe 5. The tiny house, built by my grandfather, was filled with cousins bedded down everywhere. I was lying in my grandparents’ bed, looking out the window, which was narrow and near the ceiling, so you could see the stars if you were on your back, looking up and out.
I saw Santa Claus streaking across the night sky, sleigh pulled by reindeer, and realized I had better get to sleep, or the old man might skip this house. My cousins would really be upset with me. Sure enough, in front of the fireplace the next morning were gifts from St. Nick. The plate of cookies held only crumbs. The carrots for the reindeer were gone.
I know. I probably didn’t really see Santa Claus. Maybe it was an airplane headed to Logan Airport in Boston, or perhaps a meteor shower. But it is a powerful childhood memory that has stuck with me for a very long time.

I hope your Christmas is filled with family and friends, that you will take time to reflect on the true meaning of this season, perhaps do an act of kindness for a stranger, or possibly accept a kindness from one.
Merry Christmas and God Bless.

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