Thursday, December 9, 2010


“It’s most wonderful tyme of the year…”

It’s very strange, but I, me, the family deemed Scrooge, cannot stop singing Christmas songs! In fact, the other day I just about caused my mother to faint when I actually REQUESTED she put on some Christmas music. Just for the record, I was poised to catch her before I let the words escape my lips. She gladly put in a CD and I think it made her happy to see me with at least a modicum of Christmas Spirit.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love what Christmas stands for, the birth of Christ, but the whole hullabaloo that goes with it, well, if I’m honest, it reminds me of some very miserable tymes from the Christmases of my childhood. Oh my, just typing that now dampened my spirits a little. Suffice it to say that Christmas at my house was probably the most miserable tyme of the year, and trust me, most every day of the year was miserable.

Okay, so, moving away from troublesome thoughts and back to the fact that my Scrooge-like self this year has the uncontrollable urge to sing Christmas songs. Well, no, I guess there is a bit more of a background story you will need to understand the WOW factor of my melodies. It’s been six years since I moved away from the source of my ill Christmas memories and you would think that with tyme it would get easier to enjoy the holiday season. I think in a way it has made it easier, but I made one fatal mistake when I moved; I got into retail.

There’s no worse place to work during the Christmas season than in a retail store, especially one that cares far more about its bottom line than its employees, which is most every one, and one whose manager is the epitome of Ebenezer Scrooge. Retail will take any ounce of Christmas spirit a person has and exploit it until said person no longer possesses any desire to deck a hall or sing one more fa la stinkin’ la!

Sure, most people think that the stores are so pretty and the deals are so great, but what they don’t realize is that the employees are forced to get a certain number of credit applications and a certain amount of sales in order to maintain their rate of pay. How can anyone sustain a cheerful attitude with that hanging over his or her head? Not to mention being forced to listen to the same horrible versions of the same secular “Christmas songs”, (because Heaven forbid they play a song that mentions Jesus and “offend” anyone) over and over for eight hours a day. I mean really, how many tymes can a person listen to Jessica Simpson destroy “Baby it’s Cold Outside” before they want to take a battle axe to the radio speakers? Can you see where I’m going with this? Getting into retail was not the place to be in order to heal my Christmas tyme woes.

Now, part of me thinks that, deep down, I desperately wanted to shake my ‘Scroogeness’ because about two years ago I developed a sheer fondness for Christmas movies. Yes, it’s true and you know the movies mean. I thoroughly enjoy the ones where people find their Christmas spirit, where they learn about family and giving and everything that’s important and yes, I especially delight in the ones with cheery conclusions, where the characters find true love and happiness at the end. Alas, I am a hopeless romantic to the nth degree. In fact, the day I find a man like the ones they write in Hallmark movies is the day…well, I digress.

So, the fact that I have this Christmas movie partiality and my current need to sing Christmas songs, oh, and the fact that this year I am actually excited to go get a tree and decorate are a new found assurances that I am not a lost cause when it comes to holiday spirit. Such assurances however prompted me to think about the people that were blessed to never question their holiday spirit, the ones that have are set in their activities and traditions.

Tradition is like a pack of batteries; it has its pluses and minuses. I know people that absolutely have to do it like they’ve always done it. They have to visit this uncle on this day and they have to take this particular dish to that particular party. They have to put this decoration here and that decoration there. They have to attend a particular function, not because they want to, but because it’s what they’ve always done. It just has to be the same or, to them, it just isn’t Christmas.

Now, for me, the one with the Scrooge-ish tendencies, well, I don’t really have that many Christmas traditions. Sure, there’s a tree and some decorating, a party or two and some favorite foods, but honestly, nothing is mapped out and specifically detailed. So, tradition or no tradition? That is the question.

Well, if I were Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof I would be advocating tradition, tradition and trying desperately to control my daughters, but would I be right? Is doing something just because that’s the way it was always done really a valid reason for doing it? I really don’t think it is. I think that doing something because it is the right thing to do is always a good reason for doing it, but to do something because tradition demands it, well, I think there has to be more to it than that.

The Bible warns us about living in the past and, in a way, I think that is what traditions force us to do. By doing what we’ve always done we’re forced to look at what’s gone by and we fail to live in the present. I’m not insinuating that traditions are wrong or that drawing from examples or lessons of the past is bad, but I do think that letting traditions control how we live is not right.

I mean think about it, if Thomas Edison let tradition control him, we wouldn’t have the light bulb. Edison did not say, “well, we’ve always been in the dark, so we should always stay in the dark”, instead he moved forward and gave the world some fantastic inventions. In the same respect, Jesus’ disciples threw tradition to the wind when they gave up everything to follow Him. The fishermen were undoubtedly following in their father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, but when Jesus said, “follow me”, they moved forward and, eventually, became great evangelists. Imagine if they would have said, “sorry Jesus, we’ve always caught fish and we’re going to continue to catch fish, but thanks for the offer”. What a thought.

So, it comes down to this. As we deck the halls, go to parties, visit family and a sing those Christmas songs, let’s not let tradition dictate the holiday season. Let’s take things as they come, enjoy the moment, live in the present and make new memories because trying to recapture the past is an exhausting tradition and after all, Christmas…“it’s most wonderful tyme of the year”!