Fish Out of Water, by Thomas Spychalski…

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Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 19 Dec 13 - 0 Comments

Last month, as we approached Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I felt compelled to express my disdain at how commercialized the Christmas holiday has become.

Sure enough, come Monday morning there were fights over flat screen televisions in Wal-Marts, taser brawls in a mall and despite feeling vindicated about my observations, the actions themselves just make me feel disgusted, not pride at being proved correct.

So I figured I’d use the space this time around focusing on the good aspects of the holidays.

Beyond the religious aspects of the season, Christmas is made for children of all ages.

To a child, who has no understanding of Black Friday deals, credit card debt or family drama, Christmas is a time of magical moments and wonder.

Many a night in my childhood was spent trying to listen for reindeer on our roof and waiting to hear the ‘official’ word from NORAD that Santa Claus was indeed on the job bringing toys to children the world over.

It also was the time you got two weeks break from school, which was like an added bonus. Two weeks off with no tests, no teachers and no problems.

Another thing that stands out in my Christmas Memories was the music. Although today I am quite bored with the same five or six holiday classics remade by artist after artist, back then those songs were fresh (to me) and a big part of my past holidays.

A few albums and songs really stick out, such as the Bing Crosby Christmas album (on vinyl no less) or Merry Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

At the time I was too young to understand the meaning of the latter song too well but being raised on The Beatles and classic rock music like some are raised on milk I knew it forwards and backwards.

I also recall having a cassette tape of The Chipmunks Christmas Album, which contained the immortal classic Christmas Don’t Be Late, which one year I played so much I could probably speak chipmunk. After that particular Christmas, the tape mysteriously disappeared.

Another thing about my childhood Christmases was the snow. Lots and lots of snow.

On the Gulf Coast snow is about as rare in Winter as a Summer without a heat wave. Back in the appropriately named ‘Windy City’, Winter came with a snow shovel and a bag of road salt.

However, unlike now, when a huge Winter storm means horrible travel conditions, numb fingers and possible lost wages, back then it just meant snowmen, sleds and possible snow days off school.

I also have fond memories of being in Catholic school during this period, as I loved hearing about the birth of Jesus. For me this was part of an extraordinary story that started in late December and ended on Easter.

Admittedly it was His story and the constant drone of the yearly holiday specials that made me wonder as I got older if most around me were paying mind to the true meaning of the holiday rather then getting up and seeing what they had ‘gotten.’

Speaking as a man who will either be working or alone on Christmas, I know how hard it can be later on when the lights of childhood end. But there is a trick to it, one I wish I could spread amongst people as it would be the only Christmas gift I would truly want:

Take that Christmas spirit and share it everywhere you see, to every person you love and every person you don’t. Take the time to forgive and look outward. Seems easy enough, but the next bit is a little harder. Keep that spirit with you and never let it go, keep it with you and make the world a little more like Christmas every day.

No matter where you are, alone or together, near or far apart, if you focus on the true spirit of the season rather than baubles and a few days off work, you may just give yourself a gift this year.

I wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and I will meet you again in this space this time next year.

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