Our house will be quiet this Christmas morning. I get up early because that’s a Christmas morning habit I developed long ago when our children were young and I was as excited as they were to see what had transpired overnight. They were eager to know whether the mysterious Santa had stopped in. Had he left gifts? Had he eaten the cookies and drunk the milk they had left on the mantle? I had assured them that Santa was a personal friend of mine and I knew he could not resist cookies and milk. Usually, I wore a milk mustache above my lip on Christmas morning.
Back then, after a few frenzied minutes in a blizzard of discovery and mayhem, Judy and I would sneak in a little catnap and get ready to motor off, family in tow, to visit our parents and other kin in far away places.
Things are different now. Our parents have all gone to be with God. Our children are all grown up and our grandchildren are, too. We are often together as a big, extended, close-knit family. But Christmas mornings now are spent with just the two of us at home. We sleep as late as we can. Then we awaken and sip cups of coffee to Christmas music. There’s a serene rhythm to Christmas now for us. This is how it should be. We chat about how Christmas has changed for us through the years. Christmas is all about change. Birth is always about the emergence of change entering a world in need of new beginnings.
Some change is more welcome than other kinds of change. I think of myself as a person very open to change. But sometimes I get a bit grumpy when it comes to political correctness. For instance, what is the proper greeting for a morning like today? Particularly for a person like me. I am going to say, “Happy Christmas,” “A blessed Christmas to you,” or “Merry Christmas.” I’m just grumpy enough, even on Christmas, to resist greeting you with “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” or “’Tis the season to be jolly.”
Now don’t get me wrong; I enjoy holidays as much as anyone. I like all seasons too — especially seasons in which to be jolly. I mean, I’ll put my jolliness up against anyone else’s anytime. But right now, I’m talking about Christmas! I’m resisting the efforts of some to remove Christmas from Christmas. I’m firm in this. I’m not going to be unkind or impolite, unpleasant or disrespectful about it. I’m simply going to be straightforward about who I am and what I’m celebrating. Lots of folk whom I love see this differently than I, but you know me.
It’s true, Christmas changes for us as our lives change. So I wrote Santa the following note this year:
“Dear Sir Claus,
I know you are very busy at this time of year. I want to take a little pressure off you and ask you to change your plans as they relate to us. It’s important for you to get to all the children as you make your rounds. We would enjoy your visit, but we really don’t need it. We have what we need and want. Look out for the children. Spread some happiness. Bring a little peace to the children. We will be thinking of you. I’ll be happy to eat the cookies and drink the milk left on our mantle this year. We will be thinking of you. Your friend, Harold.
Oh, and Santa, a joyful Christmas to you!”