"Any man who goes around with the words 'Merry Christmas' on his lips ought to be boiled in his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart"Yup, got to play Ebenezer Scrooge in a Christmas play back in grade school and loved it. After getting past the toy/game acquisition phase at some point in high school, I have never been a big fan of Christmas. I used to knock myself out trying to find just the right gift for each family member and friend. It was gratifying when they opened these presents, but I also resented having to spend so much time, energy and money all at once.
These days, I give stuff to people all year around. When I see something a friend would like, I get it and give it to that person, regardless of season. And for the holidays, I get back to the real purpose of all these winter celebrations, which is to counter the seasonal cold and darkness. In the immortal words of Wayne, "Party On!" Such partying is not as uninhibited as in earlier decades, but a lot of lights, imbibing and socializing helps get you past the Solstice.
Receiving gifts graciously is an art I've been slow to develop. Sometimes a gift will come from someone out of the blue and I feel embarrassed that I didn't reciprocate. But finally I've come to learn that the gift you give back is the gratitude you express to the giver, the thanks for caring. (And then, I make a mental note that down the road to keep that person in mind for a gift whenever I come across the right thing.)
The Oregonian gave me an unexpected gift on Christmas Eve, although belatedly. The paper never arrived on my porch that morning, but because of the egregious travel conditions, I didn't call up circulation . Instead, I read the paper later at a coffee house and inside it was a column by Garrison Keillor. Everyone knows Keillor from his radio show and many also because of his Lake Woebegon books, but Keillor also writes a fine newspaper column, the best since Russell Baker retired from the New York Times. He writes one every week, but The O chooses to publish it about as often as every lunar eclipse. Why I don't know. The editors dutifully run syndicated columns by the pathetically predictable David Broder, as well as reprinting all the Times' columnists the following day.
But for Christmas, they gave me Keillor, and I give him to you here.