By: Dennis Bates
My wife and I were supposed to go Christmas shopping today. It is one of the annual rituals I really don’t look forward to.
First, I hate to shop. I have been known to buy new clothes only when the old ones literally fall off of me. One year at our annual office Christmas party my suit pants split right up the seam just as we were sitting down to eat. I could tell by the draft. A good friend of mine literally covered me by walking close behind me as I snuck out of the party to go home and change. As I put the coat of my only other suit on I heard an ominous tearing, and I looked back to see that the sleeve had rent itself asunder and hung by only a few threads. And there I stood with my garments torn appropriately in Old Testament fashion but I was fresh out of ashes.
So, I put the coat from my first suit on and wore it with the pants of the second suit. It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal, but the first suit was a basic charcoal color leaning toward the blue gray shades and the second was a brownish color accenting lighter tan tones…with a dark brown vertical stripe. I won’t even talk about how they looked with the soft pink shirt. Hey, that color was in the year I bought it; I just don’t remember which year (or decade) that was for sure.
Second, I really hate to shop at Christmas time. There is never any place to park, the crowds are too large and they are full of rude people. I might even be one of them after about a half hour of being jostled to and fro. And for what? To buy some useless present for somebody who will look at it for exactly what it is: some useless present.
I know that there are lots of people who love to shop and love to buy things for people at Christmas. I am simply not one of them. I prefer sitting in front of the fire, listening to classic Christmas music with an occasional playing of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” I love the cookies, the smells of hot mulled cider, the laughter of good friends and family as we embellish stories of Christmas past. I can do without the presents if I have those things..
I look forward to the candles lit around the perimeter of the small town church I attend on Christmas Eve as we sing “Silent Night” and for a few moments at least, there is true Peace on Earth and good will toward all men and women. You can almost hear the angels themselves join in. They don’t perform it as much anymore, but I loved the Christmas pageants put on by all the small children as they reenacted the Biblical Christmas story. What could be more genuine and pure than watching a six or seven year old Mary rock the Baby Jesus in her arms as the rest of the children who are shepherds, wise men and Joseph sing “Away in the Manger?”
That’s Christmas to me, and if we skipped all the presents and especially the shopping for them, I would still love this time of the year, maybe even more than I do now. So today, when my wife and I woke up and the second day of an ice storm kept us from going to the mall, I was happy and thankful. What’s even better is that the freezing rain is supposed to turn to snow this afternoon, so I guess we’re stuck inside where it’s warm, shopping on the Internet. At least virtual shopping avoids the crowds and I don’t have to worry about finding a parking place.