Gallery B

Holiday Cheer
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Yup, It’s Christmas

By James Donahue

Of all the national holidays we celebrate, Christmas clearly tops them. I think this is because of all the commercial hype the holiday gets by advertisers attempting to portray the day as a time of buying and exchanging gifts. The onslaught continues almost non-stop from as early as Halloween.

The stores and many downtown districts bombard our heads with Christmas music for weeks prior to the big day. The television, radio, and computer programming is designed to get us mentally excited about Christmas. Even the weather forecasters spend their time giving travel conditions for families heading home for the holidays.

In the massive effort to persuade people to spend all of the money they have, and to go deep in debt with money they don’t have, we are mentally brainwashed to think of this holiday as something magical; that if we do everything right our lives will be changed and we will have ultimate happiness forever. We are persuaded to believe that having that new giant screen television in our living rooms, a surround-sound entertainment system in the family room, a new car in the driveway and piles of new clothes, shoes, perfumes, jewelry and toys unwrapped under a decorated evergreen tree, that extreme ecstasy, bliss and euphoria will be the reward.

Guess what. It doesn’t happen.

There aren’t many Americans earning the kind of money it would take to come close to staging the kind of Christmas gift giving extravaganza described above. Thus the treasures unwrapped on Christmas morning fall far below expectations. And even if we manage to prepare a nice ham or turkey dinner, the day usually ends up somewhat dismal. Nothing turned out quite as we had expected.

But don’t despair. If the family is gathered for the day, take joy in this. It is here . . . among people who love and care for us, that we find the real joy and happiness. We need to treasure these moments because life is so fleeting. Each Christmas we spend together may well be our last.

Take pleasure in the way the neighborhood is decorated with colored lights and holiday displays. Appreciate the words of good will voiced by neighbors and the people we meet on the streets. There is a little magic generated by all of the promotional music, colors and anticipation in the days preceding the big event. Be glad you can be a part of this.

And above all, never expect Christmas to be anything more than it ever was. It is a celebration of the winter solstice and the time when the sun begins to return for longer, warmer days ahead. Love the way we celebrate. Love the people who gather around us to help us celebrate. And be glad you are alive to witness it all.