Thursday, December 22, 2011

Because I Said So: Christmas spirit should be more than seasonal

Coming up with column ideas is not an easy task. I don't know how others do it several times a week, it's difficult enough for me to do every two weeks.

At this time of year it seems there is even more pressure. It's Christmas, and with that there needs to be a big splash, right? This is the column meant to be a present under the tree, with a big, red bow, for my readers.

This is the fourth Christmas I've written a "Because I Said So" column. Some are funny, some are touching; all, I think, are hit and miss. Hopefully, though, I've hit more than I've missed.

Please enjoy this year's offering, and please have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, from my family to yours.

Charles Dickens and Ebenezer Scrooge remind us to seize the moment and to treat every day as though it were Christmas.

George Bailey and Clarence the angel remind us that no man is a failure who has friends.

Buddy the Elf reminds us that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

And Clark Griswold and Cousin Eddie remind us that it's illegal to empty a chemical toilet into the storm sewer.

My 5-year-old daughter reminded me the other day that there are still no presents wrapped beneath our tree. There are presents, to be sure, just not wrapped as yet. But we're busy, aren't we? We parents with our jobs and bills and responsibilities. It's easy to let the time of year slip away from us, or for its meaning to get lost in a knotted string of numbers and details.

It was quite a number of years ago that a man came in to shop at a little retail store I had Downtown and we chatted at the register. I'm sure at some point I talked about my four kids because, as he was leaving, he stopped, turned around and came back in to thrust something in my hand. "That's for your kids," he said before leaving again. I looked down at a hundred-dollar bill. I was speechless. Times were tough, and the money would come in handy; it was all so unexpected.

I told my kids about the stranger. He was rail thin and had a long white beard and white hair. Months later, during December, my daughter mentioned the man out of nowhere and said he must have been Santa Claus.
I had never even considered that.

Stories abound lately to remind us what the season is about and that it shouldn't be merely a seasonal feeling. They remind me of the good Samaritan who wandered into my shop that day. Across the country, anonymous donors are paying off layaway balances at Kmart stores, ensuring a Christmas morning for kids who might not have otherwise had much of one.

And, in probably the greatest gift of the holiday season, troops from all over the country are returning home from Iraq. Men and women who have been away from loved ones for months and years will be able to see their families and hold them in the light of a Christmas tree at last.

Bing Crosby, among others, sang that he'd be home for Christmas. Make a home in your hearts for the less fortunate during Christmas this year, and in every season of the next year. It's what Scrooge would have wanted, it's the spirit that George Bailey was searching for and it's something even Clark Griswold found.

The spirit of the season is all some people want to see wrapped up beneath the tree this year. My daughter will be taking inventory.

Richard J. Alley is the father of two boys and two girls. Read more from him at Become a fan of "Because I Said So" on Facebook:
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