Winter fast approaches and so does the Christmas holiday. I see large snowflakes blending with spattering rain as I wait to taxi my daughter Kathie and our neighbor Michael to school. Before I wash and dry a few dishes, I flip through the CD cases positioned by my player in the kitchen – all Christmas discs I loaned to our Columbiana Women’s Club for the annual Christmas tea.
Timed to coordinate with our small city’s “Christmas in the Village” events, my club entertained more than 150 guests during the weekend before Thanksgiving. Merchants began decking various holiday paraphernalia complete with lights around the storefronts before the last Halloween pumpkins puckered. Village crewmen stretched from cherry pickers high above the streets to string colored Christmas lights across the village square (or circle as it is). I recoiled for my usual offensive against having the season pushed at me too fast.
Have I become soft on my principles – so accustomed to thinking of Christmas before Thanksgiving that I evolved with the trend I used to oppose? I don’t feel offended this year. Instead, I’m pleased that so many homes managed to set up their decorations before the weather got nasty. I’m happy I can clear my head enough to be open to change, and I’m realizing that my mood should not depend on what’s happening around me so much as how I respond to what’s happening around me.
I believe in the spirit of Christmas so why shouldn’t I be glad to be reminded of it any time of year. It’s that mercenary quest, so much flash for our dollars, that worries me because I expect I’ll be right in there with the purchasing throngs.
One of this year’s early TV Christmas commercials ran a traditional Dean Martin tune with cozy, quaint animation. It grabs me every time. It’s asking us to use (of course) a credit card. As we head toward the big holiday, we’ll be bowled over by more angles on Christmas hype than we could ever imagine, because clever advertisers make big money to help big money-makers make even bigger money.
Buyers beware; let’s check our brakes and be ready to tap them slowly before we go full tilt into a holiday shopping skid.
Why not downscale a little on the gifts? It really is the thought that counts, not the dollar value. Let’s consider homemade gifts: making favorite foods to give away – or handwriting favorite recipes to stick in a Christmas card.
Besides packaging the usual Christmas sweets, we could fill a basket with all the right stuff for a special meal or a special home spa experience. We could pass along a book we love that’s still like new, fix a tin with homemade treats for pet owners, wrap a new kitchen gadget in a nice dish towel – we all need new dish towels, so we finally break out our old new ones we’ve been saving.
I look at the dish towels I’m using that have seen better days; oh, I bleached them, but some stains just don’t come out. I look forward to using my Christmas towels – still in decent shape since I only use them for a couple weeks each year.
I put a Tony Bennett disc in the player – a good choice for pre-Thanksgiving because it has Snowfall, Winter Weather, and Favorite Things. I’m reminded of how fabulous Tony’s concert was at Youngstown’s new Convocation Center, now nicknamed ‘the Chev’ for Chevrolet Center. How quickly its name found a price.
Yes, money talks; it has for as long as humans have used money as a means of exchange. We just have to be reminded – especially at Christmas – to try to speak a different language.
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