I was feeling a little Scroogey just before Thanksgiving and had an if-I-can-only-get-through-the-holidays attitude.
But the day after Thanksgiving, I got a burst of energy and decided to put up the Christmas tree. Once we started, my dad, who was also determined to be a Scrooge, was inspired, too. He took to the rooftop and hung Christmas lights.
By Sunday night, not only was our house decked with boughs of holly and all that of that fa la la la la stuff, but I also had almost all of my Christmas shopping done. My daughter, Laura, and I headed to Wal-Mart on Saturday night and, in record time, had the shopping cart loaded with gifts.
I was exhausted Sunday, but I felt great about our weekend accomplishments. I told my mom, “With the tree up and most of our shopping done, I just might get to enjoy the holidays this year while everyone else runs around like crazy.” And with my class and finals soon to be over next week, that will leave me even more time to savor the sights and sounds of the season.
Aaah, the sound of cell phones buzzing in the stores and of people answering them like it was a national emergency, carrying on urgent conversations with people they haven’t seen in five minutes. The constant commercials telling us what we need to get our loved ones and the heavy traffic. Christmas concerts. Parties. Open houses, and all of that other fa la la la la stuff.
On second thought, maybe it would be nice to skip Christmas.
Not really. Just kidding. But if you’ve got extra time on your hands, like me, (I plan to do a lot of reading), pick up John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas. It’s a short and hilarious novel about a couple who attempt to skip Christmas. No gifts. No Christmas cards. No parties. Nada. They devise an almost perfect plan to get away from it all and take an ocean cruise, until something happens (I won’t give away the plot). Then suddenly, they have to race around frantically at the last minute to bring Christmas to their home.
It just goes to show that, unless you have connections with someone at NASA, there’s no escaping Christmas on this planet. But that doesn’t mean you have to be taken in by all the commercialism.
I hope to use my extra time to appreciate the “reason for the season.” And if you look around, it’s really not that hard. Some things, which may look commercial, really aren’t.
Until a few years ago, I associated candy canes with the whole sugar plums dancing in your head and gingerbread house theme. But then I was reminded of what candy canes represent.
In 1670, a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany bent sugar-sticks into canes to represent a shepherd’s staff and associated it with the nativity. Another legend claims they were symbols of Christianity. A Catholic priest named Gregory Keller invented a machine to automate candy cane production in the 1950s. As for Santa Claus, he’s really believed to be St. Nicholas of Myra, a bishop who was imprisoned and persecuted. He was called “wonder worker” because of his kindness, during his life, and as legend goes, even afterward.
As for Christmas trees, they are believed to have begun with St. Boniface, who used the triangular shape of a fir tree to describe the Holy Trinity. Another legend says St. Boniface performed a miracle when he saw a group of pagans around an oak tree about to sacrifice a child to the god Thor.
There are other legends about the Christmas tree, but the story I’m inclined to believe happened around 10 A.D., when a group of mischievous wives devised a clever way to get their husbands away from the Dallas Cowboys football game on Thanksgiving Day and take them to Wal-Mart.
Helena Rodriguez is a staff writer for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico.