SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – Well it’s Christmas morning at last, and as I sit here waiting for the proverbial creatures to stir, even a mouse, I thought I’d chime in with some of the many thoughts running through my head. No doubt few of them are newsworthy, but it is, after all, a typically slow news week, and rather than manufacture stories I thought this might be fun.
1. Who would have thought that going to bed last night at 3AM, I would awake to an actual white Christmas? When I came home from the party last night, the sky was filled with stars. Not sure how this happened, but it sure is pretty, and I just know that to many it must seem just like magic!
2. I just love Christmas, and it’s not even my holiday. I mentioned that to one of my kids yesterday and he didn’t understand it. To him, Christmas was a time of exclusion, when most of his friends were getting decorating their homes, having huge family gatherings, and of course getting tons of presents. Granted, he got plenty of awesome things for Hanukkah, and of course we get eight days of gifts instead of one day, but it rarely seems like as big of a deal. That brings me to item 3.
3. For me, Christmas is just an awesome holiday, because even if I don’t celebrate the day itself for the same reason, I still celebrate the amazing traditions that go along with it, and the great friends I get to see, some of them only once a year. I know that each year the day before Christmas eve day I get to see the Gordon clan, and they are such amazing hosts. Christmas eve we’ve spent with the Siegelman’s for as long as I can remember, and that’s where I smoke my one cigar of the year in that somewhat testosterone filled cigar room in the basement. When I get home from their party in the wee hours of the morning, I exchange my traditional Christmas evening email with my dear and special friend in Hawaii, who somehow finds a way to celebrate just fine, even in 80 degree weather – with the occasional penguin in a palm tree.
On Christmas Day, I must admit a bit of jealousy, not for the presents, but for the family closeness soon to come around 1:00 as they cut into that early dinner surrounded by loved ones. I reflect back over the years of my life and all the fun Christmas days in my past. Back in college, my girlfriend celebrated the holiday, so I can remember each Christmas Day with her family, and it was an amazing time. When I moved to Boston, and Jamie was working in Oncology at Children’s she volunteered to work on the holiday, so others could have the day off, and I would go hang out there for the day and play guitar for the kids who were too sick to leave the unit. That definitely helped me keep the things wrong in my life in some perspective. As I got older, I seemed to fall into that routine of doing what “my people” have done, almost since the days of Moses himself, which is to spend Christmas day eating Chinese food and going to the movies. Maybe I’ll finally get to see Lincoln today?
4. Each year on Christmas eve day I get to do an on air call in interview with the BBC. Based in Shrewsbury, Shropshire England, we get to talk about the happenings here in our nation, and the similarities and differences between the celebrations in our different Shrewsburies.
5. One of the cool things about Christmas for folks like us is that we get to enjoy all of the beauty and pageantry of the holiday without having to do all of that work that goes along with buying a zillion presents and cleaning the house for company!
6. I’ve spent the last two Christmas days in Key West. What an amazing place to spend an otherwise cold holiday.
7. I feel bad for people who have to work today, but I’m selfishly happy that I can go to Dunkin Donuts and get coffee later.
8. If I promise not to wake them until 11:00, is it wrong to suggest to my kids that they put in at least a couple of hours today starting their mid-term review packets? How about having Sam polish one or two of those college essays that he still has to do before the submission deadline?
9. I grew up in New Jersey, and have never seen the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, or for that matter, the Thanksgiving Day parade.
10. Finally, and not to end on a somber note, I can’t help but feel that on days like this when so many celebrate the beauty and joy of this special day, I think of those for whom it’s going to be a very tough day. For 26 families in Newtown Connecticut, the day just reinforces a sense of deep loss, as presents sit, unopened under the tree, a reminder that long after the media has moved on, life will never be the same. I have a friend who had lost his daughter in a terrible accident. I bumped into him in Staples one day, during Christmas season two years later, and said “Hi, how’s is going?” He simply responded “I woke up again today, that’s all I can ask for.” Once you’ve lost a child, life is never the same. For those families, just as for the families of those who lost loved ones in Aurora, Columbine, September 11th and every other incident of senseless violence, the holidays are a far different time. Oh and while we’re on the subject, remember that though the news stations no longer have anything to write about, thousands of families both in New York, and on the Jersey Shore where I grew up, remain homeless this special day, victims of Hurricane Sandy.
It has been a great year for many, and a not so great year for others, yet this big blue globe we call home keeps on turning. The Mayans were wrong, we are still here, and although we are probably going to fall off a fiscal cliff next week, life will go on.
Whether you celebrate or not, it’s a great day to hold those around you just that much closer, tell them you love them, and be grateful for the wonderful gifts that you have, especially the gifts that always fit – the gift of good friends, good family, good spirit and good health.
From my family to yours, I wish you a happy and healthy holiday.