My daughter, Abby, made a very good point the other day.  We were discussing the choir music we have been rehearsing for Christmas.  One song speaks of smiling faces on happy shoppers and something about everything being merry and bright.  Her comment was “How many smiles do you see on faces in the mall and how many of them are happy?  People are pushing and shoving with their packages full of Christmas cheer, beating each other with their bags trying to get to the sale items first.  All the while they are grumbling about long lines.  All I can think, as I look around, is fa la la la stupid la!” 

It’s true!  We are scurrying about like hamsters in a cage.  Beth, is a  missionary and also daughter number two,  says that if you want to find out any hidden sin in your heart just go to a Wal-Mart parking lot on any Saturday in December.  Maria, daughter number one, talks about it taking the Twelve Days of Christmas to visit all the sets of parents, step-parents, grandparents, step-grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, and the partridge in the pear tree. 

Along with the school holiday programs that many children and grandchildren are involved in there are recitals, ballgames, work related gatherings, church dinners and church programs, shopping, wrapping, decorating, and baking.  We are so busy getting ready for the holidays that we don’t have time to enjoy them.  Credit cards get maxed out and savings accounts get depleted, all for the purpose of indulging our already overindulged friends and families.  All of this stresses us to an all-time high.  Where is the peace and goodwill toward men?

I answered Abby’s comment by telling her that I can remember when the season did match the words of the carols.  I can recall a time when nobody put up a Christmas tree until about the 15th of December, and even then it seemed forever until December 25th.  Halloween was a day, not a season, and Thanksgiving and Christmas were different seasons.  Now, everything is lumped together in one long celebration from mid-October until New Years.

Not that the olden days were all jolly and bright, but they certainly were a lot less hectic.  There was something about Christmas that was magical.  Friends and family gathered in our home and around the piano to sing about silver bells and city sidewalks.  We drank hot chocolate and coffee and ate cookies or cake.  There was an occasional RC cola or Coca Cola served.  We didn’t have an assortment of heavy hors d’ourves as we do at our gatherings now.  That could be one of the reasons that we didn’t hear much about packing on the pounds over the holidays.

I recall one such get-together Christmastime.  My parents had friends that used to visit us often.  They had four or five children, and when you add this to the six kids in our family, it was quite a houseful.  The adults would sit around and talk for hours while the kids played.  We were told to behave ourselves and knew that if we didn’t, Daddy would take care of us after the company left.  The Campbell children had not been taught good manners or how to respect personal property.  They would make it a point to go through every closet and drawer in the house.  If you had any skeletons in the closet, the Campbell kids were sure to find them.  They destroyed everything they put their hands on.  We tried to hide our favorite toys before they came, but seeing as how they ransacked the house, that was hard to do.

Jeaneane, my sister, had a favorite doll.  She loved that doll!  She carried it everywhere she went.  It was like her security blanket.  One evening the Campbell kids (Did I mention that they were tyrants?) came over.  One of them deliberately tore the head off of Nene’s baby doll.  She was heart broken!  She cried and cried.  After the rowdy rooters left, Daddy did his best to fix the doll.  He wired her head back on, just good enough to stop the flood of tears flowing down Nene’s cheeks.

Not long after that Mother took us down to Miller’s department store to see Santa Claus.  We patiently waited our turn to sit on Santa’s lap.  Unbeknownst to us, but fully known to our mother, was the fact that Mr. Campbell was Santa.  Nene climbed onto Santa’s lap with her favorite dolly in her arms.  Just as she did the dolls head fell off and rolled on the floor.  Santa said something about her doll breaking to which Nene replied, “It was broken already.  Those mean old Campbell kids tore it up!”  Oh the embarrassment and grief we caused our mother through the years.  I don’t think that Mr. Campbell felt too much goodwill toward us after that.

Christmas is still my favorite season.  I love to decorate and have been busy helping others do the same this year.  I have fallen prey to the bug being passed around.  You know the one, the busy bug. It seems to be spreading like wildfire, and the cure is too easy so people just suffer through its duration. 

We have all read research on what stress can do to our health.  In our world of advancing technology, which is supposed to make our life easier and give us more time, we can’t seem to find the time to be exercise.  There is hope for settling our nerves and the hustle bustle this year.  We can substantially reduce stress by setting priorities.  We don’t have to attend every function or party that we are invited to.  Pick and choose.  Let’s focus on the things that really matter and avoid majoring in the minor.  Choose activities that allow you to spend time with family.  Spend time with friends to enjoy a nice quiet evening.  If you take the kids, don’t be oblivious to what they are doing, rather involve them in what you are doing.

I want to have time to enjoy my family, church activities, and friends.  Our family has decided to go easy on the gift giving this year.  We want to reflect more on how fortunate we have been and how much God has blessed us.  It is our desire to revel in the meaning of Christmas and the gift that was given to us on that day.

Relax and have fun this season.  Spread some holiday cheer and don’t worry about what you are going to get for Christmas.  Be a giver.  I don’t want much for Christmas, but if someone really wants to know, a hot tub would be nice.  Ho ho ho!  Tis’ the season.

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