Joy To the World

I saw a kid throwing a snowball the other day. Good thing the fun police weren’t in the vicinity. The only thing considered worse in the Year of Our Lord, 2014 (oops – we don’t say that now either) would be to sing Christmas carols in public.

Which is exactly what happened later that evening. A group of four Filipinos appeared on our doorstep, singing Christmas carols in exchange for a small donation to the Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ. I thought I’d been caught in a time warp. I was so happy with what I was seeing and hearing that I uncharacteristically handed over a rather large donation. Without even asking for a tax receipt.

So there’s hope for our world yet. Maybe it’s the season. I used to love the Christmas preparations: the decorations, the anticipation and the presents; especially anticipating my presents. Adulthood and three children cured that. Now it’s my wife and her begrudging spouse putting up the lights, tree and decorations, going shopping, buying a lot of what I consider unneeded gifts, and cooking Christmas dinner.
“Since when do you help with the tree and the decorations?” asked my wife. She was reading this over my shoulder.

“You’re not going to ruin Christmas for me again this year, are you Daddy ?” my daughter Rachelle asked me the other afternoon as I hauled in another dozen bags of groceries which would probably last us until the next afternoon, when I would be out doing the same thing again. As usual the activity had left me in a fine mood. “This whole business of the grocery stores going green is a big crock of crap,” I complained to my daughter as I unhooked a couple of cloth bags from my shoulders and let them drop to the kitchen floor. I wanted my misery to have company. “Call your brothers down here to help put away the groceries,” I continued. “Now they can charge for every bag they provide and they don’t even want to help pack them up. They just stand there like a cigar store Indian when I’m fumbling around for my credit card.”
“Dad… we don’t say Indian anymore and what’s a cigar store?” Rachelle was always both aghast and curious about my expressions of speech. I rolled on, ignoring her. “They used to even have people whose job it was to pack your bags. A lot of them didn’t look too bright but they sure made our lives easier. And at gas stations you didn’t even have to get out of your car. Someone would pump your gas and even clean the windshield. Some places advertised that if they didn’t offer to do your windshield then you would get your gas for free…” I was just warming up. “I should write a letter to someone complaining about all this.”
“No one will listen to you, Daddy,” replied Rachelle.
“Who does ?” I answered, gesturing to one son not to put the potatoes in the fridge.
“They’ll think you’re crazy.”
“Who doesn’t?”
Rachelle exhaled loudly, reminding me of my late father’s signal to me that I was now skating on thin ice. “Have you even looked at my Christmas list? You know that I need a new phone this year.” I chose to ignore that.
“I bought that tin of chocolates that they had on special at Metro to give to that girl who helped you with your Chemistry unit,” I said. Despite my bluster, I am really a kind soul.
“I’m just writing out the card now, but I don’t know whether to say ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays’.” Rachelle had always been more sensitive than her father to the feelings of others.
My blood pressure began to rise again. I heard my son Adam start to snicker. He knew what was coming. I have never met anyone from another faith who was the slightest bit offended about hearing the words ‘Merry Christmas’ uttered within their hearing space. It was always someone from the politically correct police, who felt the need to feel offended on the part of someone else.
“Just write ‘Merry Christmas’ and if her feelings are hurt she can always return the chocolates to us.” I am always ready to compromise. “I don’t think she’ll mind. Kids seem to be a lot more sensible about that stuff than my generation. That’s why half the people I know are on some kind of medication.”

Actually talking about Christmas with my daughter and a quick glance at the dining room table to remind me that we had once again received some Christmas cards started me feeling a bit less like Ebenezer Scrooge and more like Tiny Tim. Maybe I wouldn’t need a nocturnal visit from the three spirits this Christmas Eve after all. But I really do need to head out to Future Shop to see about that new phone. How’s my daughter supposed to keep her self-respect in the Glebe unless she can stroll across Bank Street on a red light, with her head down, either texting or scrolling through whatever they put out on InstaGram ?

As Tiny Tim once said, “God bless us everyone.” And let me quote his uncle as well: Merry Christmas, everyone!”

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