My family knows I'm the Grinch & the Scrooge & Bah Humbug.
Well, that's changing, maybe a little bit, and maybe you can help change it more.
My choice, though, and it IS a choice, is to stay Grinch.
A brief history on why I Grinch, and
A possible path out of Grinch-ness:
History, Part The First: Although it is all the rage today, in 1954 in semi-rural Georgia, it was the rare family with children that had been split by divorce. My older sister and I were the only two kids I knew of, that had that as a part of our lives, and thus we were the only kids I knew that spent Christmas in two places. The way I remember it, we would spend the days running up to Christmas at one parent's house; then on Christmas afternoon, the other parent would get us, and we'd spend some days there. Sometimes it was different, and instead of spending days, we'd spend an afternoon.
Summary: it was freepen weird and cumbersome and yucky for a little boy as he became a pre-teen.
Disclaimer: I'm looking back at these memories which are 50 - 60 years old, and the ACTUAL event may have been much different.
History, Part The Second: My kids didn't have to go through THAT, but they did have to go through my desire to give them everything in the whole world, coupled by inability to do so, due to not being wealthy. I HATED not being able to buy them anything their hearts desired; and, thus, it always seemed to me that Christmas was just a little bit disappointing for them. THEY NEVER EVER EVER SAID ANYTHING TO GIVE ME THAT IMPRESSION!!! This was all stuff going on inside MY Grinch head.
Now, SIMULTANEOUS with this perceived failure on my part to provide my children with every eye-brightening gift, I was able to observe from a distance families which DID have the ability to buy little boys and girls every gift, and frankly, that was pretty awful, too. Even if stuff didn't break, even if it lived up to all the claims made for it, Christmas became sort of an orgy of package unwrapping. After it was all over, no matter how much stuff had been under the tree, there was a STRONG element of 'Is That All There Is,' and it wasn't sung by Peggy Lee, either.
So, I find myself sentenced BY myself to a place between the Scylla of 'I'm too poor to buy you what you want' and the Charybdis of 'prodigious presents produces emotional poverty.'
Yes, those are mutually exclusive. Yes, this was something I did to myself. So what? I'm an American parent. It's what I have to deal with.
Anyway, as I became able to do so, I ignored Christmas, except for the religious celebrations. And I embraced Grinchness.
A path out of Grinchness, Part the First: The first time I met my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, was Christmas Day, 2010.
I brought gifts with me for the children: a 1996 Olympic Security Swatch I had been given for being on that team; a pen/pencil wallet set; stuff I don't remember;
For the grandchildren, silver Peace Dollars, wrapped in foil, with a promissory note to exchange for other gifts at their convenience.
For Vanessa, I brought the gift of my high school ring, and my dog tags. Even though this was the first time we met, I had already told her that when she asked me to marry her, I would say yes. That may seem strange to you, but it made perfect sense to me then, and still does now, seven years later.
So, in place of lots of Christmas memories I found unpleasant, I put this memory, and it has helped.
A path out of Grinchness, Part the Second: I do not need, neither do I want, any material goods. From children & grandchildren, I will joyously accept photographs and pictures drawn with crayons, and any pasty, goopy project completed at home, school or church. Beyond that, I request that anyone who wishes to present me with a Christmas present select one of the following:
1. Andi Keenan Therapy Fund. Young wife and mother Andrea (Andi) Keenan suffered a stroke in August. Being a young and healthy person, she was not correctly diagnosed for two weeks, and treatment was delayed. They are paying for her physical therapy out of their own pockets, since they fall into that category of working folks who cannot afford insurance. Any donation will be helpful; as of the end of November, over $18,000 had been raised, with a goal of $25,000. The IRS taxes GoFundMe as income, so they are trying to raise enough to pay for the treatment and cover the taxes on the donations.
2. Walter Strickland & Vids for Kids. Walter Strickland is a moderately aged young man with a heart for kids. He is accumulating, assisted by the people at Retro Rewind Collectibles and Games, donated video games for Christmas presents to kids who might not get anything else. His stated preference is donation of older video games you no longer play, but you can send him money, as well. Help a big guy bless some little people!
3. City of Refuge Programs. Atlanta area outreach. No matter WHAT touches your heart, they have a ministry you can get behind. Job training. Housing for families in crisis. Providing educational support to inner city kids. Medical care. Just click on the link, pick ONE of the several ministry opportunities, and send them a few bucks. Or a LOT of bucks.
4. Pick your own. There are LOTS of places out there which would benefit from additional support.
Money is good, because green goes with everything, but it doesn't HAVE to be money. Scrounge an envelope, a stamp, a pencil and a bit of paper. Write a note, saying "I heard about your ministry, and it's great! Here's hoping!" If you can't write a better note than that, I would be surprised.
Don't do this in place of your regular giving; this is a Christmas special. And don't sweat it, AT ALL, if you are not able to do ANYTHING because of your funds. I have SO been there, and I GET it.
And do me the great good favor: if and when this blog post moves you to contribute to, or at least be GRATEFUL FOR, one of these programs (or one of your own), would you comment to that effect on this post? Remember, I still don't like Christmas. But, I'm trying, about as hard as I can, to leave the Grinch behind. If my words have had an impact on your behavior or attitude, that might help.
Peace be on your household.