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The Ghosts of Christmas & Holiday Spirit

To paraphrase the great comic strip Pogo: I have met Ebenezer Scrooge, and he is me. About six weeks ago I agreed to write a blog about Christmas table centerpieces. No big deal, I thought at the time. I can do a little research, relate some interesting facts about the history of holiday centerpieces and the use of native plants for greenery, and post a nice little blog about Christmas in the Northwest.

Unfortunately, the history of centerpieces used for décor during the holiday season has yet to be explored. And I am not really capable of writing a how-to-make-a-Christmas-centerpiece-with-native-foliage article. So, when it came time to sit down and write my blog I had very little to share about holiday centerpieces, nothing of real interest to share with my readers, and a nasty case of writer's block.


Like Charles Dickens' famous curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge, I have never been much of a fan of Christmas. During my childhood the holiday season usually brought more anxiety and disappointment than joy. Between the family fights and the gifts of clothes that no self-respecting boy wanted to be seen wearing, I had little to look forward to this time of year.

As an adult, I watch the news and see people pepper-spraying fellow shoppers, and marvel at the hypocrisy of the season and the violence we do to each other in the pursuit of love and charity. With my jaded outlook on the holiday season, I had a very difficult time writing something constructive, and nice, about Christmas decorations.

Fortunately for Mr. Scrooge, the Ghosts of Christmas were able to convince him of the folly of his miserly ways, and inspired the old man to embrace the charitable spirit of Christmas and change his outlook on life. Thus far I have had no such ghostly visits to inspire me to change. However, the rush of an oncoming deadline, with my mind cramped around memories of Christmases past, did compel me to take a good hard look at my own attitudes towards the holiday season.


As I sat staring at my computer screen repeatedly telling myself, "You can't say that about Christmas in public," I began to realize that I actually enjoy a lotabout the holidays. But, like Mr. Scrooge again, I have always focused on people's failure to meet the ideals exemplified by Christmas. Embittered by my own disappointments during the holidays, I chose to ignore the many examples around me of people living up to the ideals of the season. It seems strange to say. But I actually ignored my own feelings of joy brought on by all the activities of the season.

So,  I am turning over a new leaf and would like to take a moment to celebrate a few Christmas traditions that I genuinely appreciate: Toy drives and charitable giving generally; real Christmas trees with gifts tucked underneath, preferably handsomely wrapped; the unfettered joy of children getting what they have always wanted; Christmas lights in the yard, even the tacky stuff; lots of good food with lots of good friends and family; and the idea that for a period of time we can at least try to set aside our pettiness, treat everyone a little better, and show some appreciation for important people in our lives. Ironically, I could go on.


I recently purchased a lovely little holiday centerpiece made from juniper and cedar branches. I think I'll give to my mother-in-law. I am sure that she will place it in the middle of her table, light the candle and enjoy her small gift. And she will keep it out with the rest of her Christmas decorations celebrating the season until it is time to put it all away and start a new year, sometime around the end of January. If I am not going to spend my holidays feeling bitter about human failings, I might as well spread a little joy around.

Happy Holidays everyone.


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