Years ago, I had to make a Christmas morning trip down to Casey's on Court to pick up something forgotten the day before --- and Casey's was all that was open. An older woman was in front of me in the lineup and when the clerk wished her a "merry Christmas" she replied, "Hrumph --- just a day like any other."
I thought that was a little harsh at the time, but the older I get the more I want to go back and say, "you go, girl!"
In retrospect, I think that my grumpy friend may have been a Jehovah's Witness --- there used to be more members of that denomination in Chariton; and the Witnesses do not observe Christmas because of various "pagan" elements incorporated into the celebration.
I've known a few Witnesses since who can be quite vocal about this --- they get their holly jollies by raining on my Christmas parade. Which is fine. You take your joy where you can find it.
The season has all sorts of gifts to bring forward. Just think how much self-righteous satisfaction some of our friends have derived while demanding a mandatory "Merry Christmas!" from those of us content to be wished a "happy holiday."
Here are a few other things I've been thinking about as Christmas approached.
1. There are a lot of folks out there grieving --- for lost loved ones, lost relationships, lost jobs, other losses. Don't expect them to perk up during the holidays just to make the rest of us feel better. Don't share pet theories about how to make it better. Time will do that in most instances --- we won't. Relax --- so that they can, too.
2. There are a lot of folks out there who aren't feeling all that well. At least three people I know are dealing with cancer right now. I want them to know that they're my heroes. You can kind of let your friends in similar positions know that, too --- then for the most part just shut up unless asked for a further opinion --- or you can see a way to offer practical help.
3. You'll hear a lot about "peace on earth," "the prince of peace," that sort of seasonal thing. But there are good reasons to be cynical about the sincerity behind all of those good words and the willingness of those who say them to carry through. That doesn't mean we shouldn't do our darndest to be instruments of peace.
4. A lot of folks out there are hungry, tired, poor, even homeless. Count blessings and share our resources --- if we've got them --- but remember that useful benevolence is consistent, not a holiday exception.
5. It matters not a whit in the grand scheme of things what we choose to believe or not believe after foraging in that great pile of human myth and magic --- it's how we behave that counts. Lord knows, we all can do better.
There's a lot to be distressed about at Christmas --- as at any other time of the year. Bah humbug. But many opportunities to share some joy. Merry Christmas!