From The PaperSheltered Islander

Suddenly There’s No “Next Time,” So Celebrate!

Time to rev up for Christmas. We will get some presents we wanted—thank God, some we don’t want or like, which we will accept with a gracious “thank you.” We will shoot dagger eyes at our children who open a gift in front of the giver and say, “Eww, this isn’t what I wanted!” We will take phone calls from people we must talk to once a year. I personally believe that eggnog was invented specifically for the purpose of getting through those horrible—I have no idea what to say—phone calls. My donation is my annual Christmas column. I hope you like it, revised and embellished to the limit of belief of course…

I believe there are people and things and ideas that belong to the world—Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Louis Pasteur, Louie Armstrong—all the great minds and artists. And I believe, Santa Claus, the person and the idea, belongs to the world too.

We learn about Santa early. We grow up a little and eventually figure out the Santa conspiracy. As teens, we denounce all of our childhood beliefs, especially Santa. We become “cool” and pretty much know everything by the time we’re twenty. It’s beyond comprehension to us how our dumb relatives can lead such screwed-up lives. We’ll never repeat the mistakes of our parents.

Through our 20s, we shun our families for our friends and lovers. We don’t need Santa, or the whole holiday mishmosh. We are all-knowing, we are powerful, we are so stupid it will later astound us.

We spend our 30s correcting all the mistakes we made in our twenties. Most of us are married with children and suddenly we hear our mother’s words coming out of our mouths. We worry a lot because there is way too much month left at the end of the money.

Our 40s are great, aside from the fact that body parts start heading south….Now you know you have all of what you need and much of what you want. You realize that money ebbs and flows in life. Money only increases options. Chicken tastes the same whether it’s served on a paper plate or a golden one. And money doesn’t insulate anyone from pain, loneliness or despair. Possessions become just “things,” and things come and go.

What’s really important is time. The days are longer and the years are shorter. Suddenly, there’s not always a “next time.” You might as well do what you like while it’s still legal. Time to drink the good wine and eat off the fine china. You let go of grudges because while you’re holding a grudge, they’re out dancing… You finally realize that your own opinion is what matters most. You’ve matured enough to know that you’re not better than anyone else, but damn if you ain’t just as good.

You rediscover your very own still amusing, still annoying family and Santa has made a dramatic comeback in your life by now. You find you need Santa more as an adult than you ever did as a child. You’ve seen enough tragedy and not enough miracles. But Santa is an annual miracle you can depend on. Santa lets us pause and reconnect with all our Christmas’ past.

As soon as we hear Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas,” we hear the sound of our own back door, the smell of our own pillow, echoes of our parents’ voices. We’d give anything to be six years old once more and bound down the stairs on Christmas morning and see our disheveled parents in rumpled robes sitting on the couch, watching us through a flurry of flying ribbons and paper.

Nothing you need now can be brought down a chimney in a sack. Still, it’s all right somehow. You know you’re all grown up when you no longer need Santa’s presents, but God above, how you still need his presence… Happy Holidays to you!

And God bless us, every one !

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