This is Jim’s traditional Christmas column.
Some say I’m a scrooge. They might be right.
Here are three exhibits (some say excuses) in my defense of this indictment:
1. The early part of my career was spent in retail. Retailers know what that does to your holiday spirit. There’s a syndrome for everything else; why not one for retail survivors? Let’s call it PTHSS: Post-Traumatic Holiday Shock Syndrome.
2. Since I don’t wait until the holidays to give someone a gift, I just don’t get all worked up about holiday giving. Not that the ladies mind getting stuff all year (let’s not lose our heads!). It’s just that they want me to be giddy about giving at Christmas-time. Giddy? Bah! Humbug!
3. As an avowed and devout contrarian it would be antithetical for me to feel obligated to do what everyone else is doing. And if there’s one thing that has become part and parcel of the holiday season, it is obligation. For example:
a) If someone gives my significant other and me a last-minute Christmas gift, “Other” feels obligated to reciprocate. Not me. I’ll do something nice for them in March.
b) After the Christmas cards have been sent, if an incoming card is received from someone not on your list, do you rush to get a card out to them? I don’t. Maybe next year. In “The World, According To Ebenezer Blasingame,” giving should be voluntary, not obligatory. In fact, to a scrooge, not reciprocating is endearing.
It’s not that I don’t like the holidays. As a Christian, this is an important time in my faith life. As a capitalist, the importance of holiday spending to our economy is not lost on me. But I just don’t care for what we self-absorbed humans hath wrought on the holiday season. And if that makes me a scrooge, guilty as charged.
So on behalf my misunderstood brethren (apparently, there are no female scrooges), let me clear up a few things:
1. Scrooges can be lovable, huggable, and yes, even cute.
2. It’s a myth that all scrooges are skinflints; some are actually quite generous. But their generosity isn’t obsessive, isn’t tied to a calendar, and doesn’t come with giggles.
3. Scrooges can be quite caring and compassionate, without saying, “Bless their hearts” over and over.
Finally, in order to influence an acquittal, I offer two challenges into evidence: one for me and one for us.
I challenge myself to be more receptive to, and tolerant of, the silly parts of the holiday season, and those who sustain the silliness. But please, be patient; the mill of a scrooge grinds slowly.
I challenge us to be more generous, loving, thankful, and spiritual all year long – not just during the holidays.
Imagine what would happen if we all practiced peace on earth, goodwill toward everyone –every day? It might sound something like this: “Let’s help those people right now. Yes! In the middle of July!”
Write this on a rock … Peace to you and yours. Shalom. Salaam. Que la paz este con ustedes.