Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Finding Christmas

What's this? What's this?  There's colour everywhere!
**Warning - a disjointed post lies beneath. The Christmas related ideas contained within may be considered revolutionary by some and may offend. Run while you can.**

I find this year, more than ever before, people seem to be having trouble with Christmas. It's not that they are against the whole idea. Nor are they miserable folks who just don't like fun. It's almost like they are on the cusp of a crisis that can unfold in one of two ways. For many, Christmas has become a massive occasion, requiring copious amounts of cooking and shopping and preparations. They quest for the "perfect" Christmas. In the past there seems to have been some kind of drive to an ideal Christmas that s unattainable. Driven by Christmas specials and retailers we have created an image of Christmas that must be lived up to lest we have a less than ideal Christmas.

People are finally getting to a point where they know that this is true. They see the money and the hassle and are having a problem. Christmas is too good an occasion to let simply slide by, but who calls the shots. Do we maintain the illusion fabricated for us by those that will make as many dollars as possible or do we look further. It seems that in the search for Christmas people will comb the stores for the perfect gift and wander around aimlessly. Like Dr Seuss told us so simply
    Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
    Was singing! Without any presents at all!
    He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming!
    IT CAME!
    Somehow or other, it came just the same!

    And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
    Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
    It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
    "It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
    And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
    Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
    "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
    "Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

Christmas is what you make of it! Trying to find it is like trying to find missing car keys, until you stop looking so hard you probably won't find it. This Christmas I challenge you to stop trying to have the perfect Christmas, as it is like the idea of a perfect marriage or perfect children. Instead I challenge you to enjoy Christmas as it comes. Nothing is perfect, but that doesn't mean it can't be great anyway. Somewhere behind all the paper and the shopping lies the real Christmas. If you stop in all the madness and listen, you will hear it in your heart. Behind the canned Christmas music on the mall speakers, just beneath the jingling bells and cries of "ho ho ho!" from the mall Santas lies the real reason for it all. It's about being with those that you care for and letting them show you that you matter too. It's about being better people and giving to others. Despite the efforts of retailers and industry to make it a profiteering session, we still give to food banks and donate toys to charities. We call long forgotten relatives and help old neighbors. We resist the commercialism. Sure we get swept away, but there is still a part of most of us that yearns for more. We know there is more to it than all the hype and that is what drives us to keep up the effort.

A few things to consider this Christmas:
    When you are grumbling about going from home to home remember that there are those with nowhere to go.

    When complaining you don't know what to get fro someone, remember that there are those that can't afford to get anyone gifts.

    When you are grumbling that the kids are going nuts, remember they could be in a hospital or worse.

    When you grumble about having to clean and decorate the house, remember there are those that would love a home of there own

Here are a few things I like to do at Christmas to bring a smile to someone's face. These work best when you do it all anonymously as the giving is the reason for the action and not the recognition. The best part is that some of these can provide maximum joy for minimum dollars.

    Food and toys given to a food bank or shelter will allow someone to have a Merry Christmas where not possible without the help.
    If you park at a metered spot while shopping, pay the maximum so the next person will have some free parking. Better yet, top up the meters beside yours.
    Buy a handful of hot coffees in the mall to give to the people outside, begging for change. They aren't really looking to buy the coffees they claim they are seeking, but a hot drink will not be refused and will help to warm their weary bodies.
    When you are doing your shopping remember to smile, it's free and contagious.
    If you really want to shock someone when you are at the mall, pause to let them into traffic. You'll find they hesitate as they are not accustomed to it, but they will smile and wave.
    When inside the mall, let someone into line ahead of you. You'll blow their mind and the look of shock and ensuing smile will be worth the minute you lose.
    I shop and carry a pile of candy canes with me that I give to cashiers and any other that want them. It brings a smile to their face and is a refreshing change from the grumbling and complaining that everyone else seems to bring.

Pause and remember that Christmas is about enjoying and helping, not shopping and stress. Open your heart and let Christmas find you in its own way and you'll be surprised at how good it feels. The only person in the way of your happiness at Christmas is yourself. Crazy family and busy malls are simply the domain of those that are having trouble finding their way. Don't get swept away in the tide, but be a rock against the flow. Merry Christmas to each and every one of you and I hope you find real joy this holiday despite the world around it. Who knows? If we all team up and start this kind of revolution, maybe we can ride the wave well into the new year. Can you imagine a world where people care about each other and show respect all year around? Chilling!!


Blogger TheatreChick73 said...


Exactly my point every year. And thanks for the reminders. Final week for everyone and sometimes in the last dash its harder than ever to keep the holly jolly cheer up.

Merry Christmas to all!

9:03:00 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

You're a wise man. The part about enjoying Christmas rather than have a trying to manufacture a perfect one is spot on. Candy canes are a good idea, but I don't think I'll be out to give them away much more now. It's time to stay in and enjoy.

9:57:00 AM  
Blogger wondy woman said...

Brilliant post, Pete. And wonderful use of Jack Skellington x x x x x x x x

12:39:00 PM  
Blogger ramblin' girl said...

Merry Christmas! Hope you have a joyful one!

1:10:00 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Nice post Pete. The candy canes for cashier is really nice, you have no idea how appreciated something simple like that is. Even just a smile and a bit of conversastion can make a huge difference.

I was a department store cashier three years in a row, Zellers. This is my first year off. I haven't put up a tree, not a single decoration or anything Xmassy. I don't miss any of it, I'm just watching from the sidelines.

I'm listening to a little Christmas music on the radio, little being the keyword. I have no spending cash so I shopped for a few things at Goodwill. My family don't care about presents any more, just the kids and they don't care what I give them really. My nephew is happy to see me and he loves that I give him my time, we do things together.

What I still like to do is drive around and look at the holiday lights on houses in the neighbourhood. Zack and I go out in the car and he claps for the best lights. I also made Xmas cookies for a cookie excahnge and gave more to the neighbours who shovelled my driveway for me, as a surprise. This is a great street for neighbours. :)

People at the store I was working for have asked if I want to come over for Xmas dinner but I have my family to show up for. I'm not feeling that I'm missing out on anything. I'm so glad not to be sick of it all this year. I'm so delighted not to be on cash, surrounded by an ocean of people who shove me and lean on the dividers, elbowing me in the head and not giving a damn. I don't have to deal with running out of bags, change or being on the cash by the door and freezing all night. Last year I hated people. This year I'm much more mellow. :D Maybe in another few yeas I'll actually want to put up a tree again. I know which box it's in.

2:32:00 PM  
Blogger katie said...

Great reminders! As someone who worked retail for 9 holiday seasons, let me tell you, if someone had offered me a candy cane, or even simply said "happy holidays" it would have made my shift.

2:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gimpy Mumpy said...

Excellent post rainypete. It should be required reading this time of year.

There is a man at my supermarket that keeps candy kisses in his shop apron and gives them to anyone who smiles. Every time I go to the market I get a "kiss". It's a wonderful treat for treating others with warmth and respect.

**I also like to pay the tolls of the cars behind us at the toll booths. My way of helping to melt away the road rage :)

3:25:00 PM  
Blogger angela marie said...

Is it the nose? That red nose that gives you such wisdom?!?

This is a tougher Christmas for me this year and I thank you for putting it in perspective.

Merry Christmas Pete!

5:49:00 PM  
Blogger Jayleigh said...

Thank you for your encouraging comments on my blog! And thanks for sharing this same sentiment I've been thinking about all week.

You said it 100 times better than I could have, and I totally appreciate you.

Merry Christmas!!!!

8:53:00 PM  
Blogger happyandblue2 said...

Nice post. Wish I could say more but I have shopping and cleaning to do. I'm so stressed out, tee,hee..

10:32:00 PM  
Blogger Denny Shane said...

I agree Pete... Christmas is definitely what you make of it...

8:08:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Leslie said...

Very well stated - thanks for putting things in perspective and sharing so many simple yet wonderful things that help make the world a better place. Merry Christmas!

8:39:00 AM  
Blogger Rae Ann said...

Very well said! I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!!!

9:38:00 AM  
Blogger Hick said...

After many years of striving for the perfect Christmas which made me so stressed out that I made myself and everyone else fairly miserable, I am now in the "if it doesn't get done then it doesn't need to get done" mode. I am trying to do more stress-free things with my family like taking in a movie (no work on my part), going out to lunch with a friend, and visitng a friend in the hospital...more relation-oriented things. I am enjoying the meaning of Christmas and am not stressed out...except that my mother-in-law is arriving today and I haven't yet cleaned the bathroom and I'd better get going and...

Merry Christmas, Pete. I have very much enjoyed getting to know you through your blog and your very humorous comments on my blog.

10:01:00 AM  
Blogger CharlieBeth said...

You have put me to shame my friend. This year I have bitched about my fellow shoppers and got irrate with a lady serving in the post office. And I know better than that.

I, like many of the people who have answered you today, have also worked in shops, and in the post office, and I know how nice it is to have a friendly customer at this time of year.

I do always make a point of smiling and being friendly to the people who serve me, even having a laugh and a joke with our resident Mrs Scrouge at the local supermarket who has sworn to kill the next tamberine whilding child to sing a carol.

The man who handed in my wallet today called a few mins ago to thank me for the chocolates I bought him as a thank you. He said I didn't need to do it, but as he was seasonally kind, it was only right that I was too. We should pass it on!

10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Martini said...

I never accept candy canes from strangers, and you sir, are very strange indeed.

2:54:00 PM  
Blogger Carol (Smiles and Laughter) said...

What a GREAT post! Especially after what I posted on my blog today. lol! :)

11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thank you for the reminders of what christmas should be about and how we'd feel less stressed by relaxing and giving up on obtaining the "perfect" Christmas Day they show in movies.

I have to admit I probably gave up earlier this week trying to figure out what would be a perfect christmas, and concentrated more on what would be perfect for me and the boys. Good to have confirmation lol

Merry Xmas to you and yours Pete :)

6:34:00 AM  
Blogger glomgold said...

People definitely give me that look of confusion when I try to let them into traffic, but the wave hardly ever comes. You're right about everyone searching for the perfect christmas. I do it too, but whatever the end result turns out to be is always pretty damn good every year so I'm happy. Hope yours was good too.

8:09:00 PM  

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