Christmas shopping… Bah Humbug!

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 28, 2009

There’s an old lady on the front of a Christmas card wearing a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers and rollers in her hair. The caption reads: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … and it irritates the bleep! out of me.

That old lady’s sentiments are mine exactly. I could have posed for the cover of that Christmas card, but I would have been standing barefooted on a soapbox with my mouth wide open, yelling about it all.

In late August, shopkeepers start putting out their mixed bag of seasonal wares – ghosts and witches, Pilgrims and Indians, Santas and an assortment of figures of Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus with a few American flags for added color.

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The purpose of all the conglomeration is to encourage folks to shop early for Christmas.

How pairing the Virgin Mary with a witch with warts on her nose is going to “encourage” anybody to go out and buy Christmas presents is beyond me.

Of course now, I’m not a shopper.

If you want to torture me, forget the water boarding, the sleep deprivation and the tarring and feathering. Just put me in a shopping mall and leave me there. I’ll go as crazy as a betsy bug so maybe I miss the point of these early holiday shopping promotions…..

Now, that’s where I stopped writing back the first week of November. I thought better of it and went on to something else.

But I’m back at it now and the reason being is something a friend said the other day. She used to do a lot of decorating for holidays but she doesn’t do much anymore. “Nobody seems to notice.”

And why would they?

We’ve been bombarded with holiday decorations since the beginning of time. If a man from Mars were to land on Earth, he wouldn’t know whether to say “Boo” or “Merry Christmas.”

So, by the time the holiday finally arrives, we’ve become desensitized — “vaccinated” against it.

I don’t like holiday vaccinations. So, I’m looking for ways around them.

I found a way around Thanksgiving desensitization at the Old Country Church last Sunday. Those who missed the old-time singing missed something really special. Now, I’m not much of a singer. Can’t carry a tune in a bucket, actually, but at the Old Country Church, to my notion, I sang like a songbird.

The warmth of the fellowship, the beauty of the singing and acknowledgement of the Creator of us all — of it all — made the singing a special time of Thanksgiving. A simple time of worship. A time of quiet, personal thanksgiving for the things that money can’t buy — the only things of real lasting value.

With Thanksgiving now only a memory, it’s time to look to the celebration of Christ’s birth.

The coming of Santa Claus and the showering of gifts are mixed in there somewhere but that’s of little interest to me now. Really, I get a little perturbed about that. We have so much — and clamor to get more — that we are almost robbed of the joy of giving – and receiving.

I remember how my little heart pounded the Christmas that I found a Howdy Doody string puppet under our cedar Christmas tree. I had wished and hoped for such a wonderful gift for so long, and it was finally mine.

The greatest gifts that I have ever received are the ones which commanded more thought than money and more love than time.

Like the mean ol’ Grinch finally learned, Christmas doesn’t come in tensile and bows, it comes from a spirit within. Each year, I find ways to rekindle that spirit.

A ride through the woods on Grover Poole’s horse-drawn wagon in search of that special cedar tree, music by the fireside at the Pioneer Museum’s Pioneer Christmas and decorating a Christmas tree with orange peelings with my little grandson are kindling for my spirit.

This week, I’m especially looking forward to spending an evening with Kathryn Windham when she comes to the We Piddle Around Theater.

To sit and listen to this wonderful storyteller as she wanders through her memories of Christmases long ago will rekindle my spirit for this special time of year.

Among my favorite Christmas memories are sitting on Mama’s lap as she read the Christmas stories from “Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories” to me and of my own children clustered around me at Christmas time listening to the stories of Christmas.

The Grinch was right. Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Christmas means, perhaps, a little bit more.

So, when I sit down by the Christmas tree on the eve of Christ’s birth, I’ll do some memory wandering of my own and, for sure, it won’t take me through shopping malls but in those wonderful, special places of the heart.