Defining Christmas anew

So, my wife Cheryl asks me, “What would you like to do for Christmas this year?” Christmas…Bah hum bug. I must admit there’s something about the Christmas season that makes an Eben-Negro Scrooge out of me. So, my wife Cheryl asks me, “What would you like to do for Christmas this year?” Christmas…Bah hum bug. I must admit there’s something about the Christmas season that makes an Eben-Negro Scrooge out of me. First there’s the obsessive consumerism. Gimme, gimme, gimme! Buy buy buy! Spend, spend, spend! You can’t escape it. Even the latest XXX Christmas gifts sold at The Hustler Store in West Hollywood made the lead story on the 11 o’clock news! Then there’s the snow factor. I was raised in Minneapolis so what’s a Christmas without snow? It’s tough for me to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s 78°F and sunny, and the Santa in the mall is wearing shorts and flip flops.

Then there’s the issue of where to spend Christmas and with whose family. Talk about diplomacy. Do Cheryl and I fly home to Minneapolis and spend it with my family or do we fly to Brooklyn and spend it with hers? Now let me tell you what that actually means. That means I have to purchase over priced airline tickets because Northwest Airlines is a hub, take time off from work, have Christmas gift and spending money, and not be able to sleep in my own bed (and possibly not with my wife). No matter how you look at it, it costs.

Let’s examine the flipside. Does her family fly out to Los Angeles and share Christmas with us or does my family? Once again it costs. So, lets say Cheryl and I decide to have a quiet “stay in LA” type of Christmas, now it’s the issue of who, what, and where we’re going to have dinner. Decisions decisions decisions. To be honest, the older I get the less I want to be bothered, especially with other people’s cooking because not everybody who thinks they can cook…can cook. The worst thing is lying to someone’s face about how good their sweet potato pie wasn’t. As far as I’m concerned if it’s just me and my wife relaxing on our leather sectional by ourselves on Christmas Day, it’s fine with me.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas! No seriously, I really do love Christmas but as of late, Christmas just doesn’t seem like Christmas anymore. It’s become more like one big financial hassle and deep down that disturbs me. Has LA jaded me?

So, I asked myself, “Ken, what made Christmas, Christmas in the past?” Then I took a trip down memory lane to my fondest Christmas memories with the Ghost of Christmas Past.

When I was a kid every year my family would trek out to Apple Valley, MN to share Christmas Eve with three or four other families (yeah, they were all Black). It was great. The house always had a big tree with pretty ornaments and many gifts. We’d have a big delicious dinner with sweet potato pie for dessert. Then we would gather around the tree and exchange gifts. The entire night was always filled with love and laughter. Then around Midnight we’d trek back to Minneapolis. My sister and I would attempt to go to sleep then wake up around 9 a.m. and race into a living room laden with gifts. My mother, my sister, and I, would sit in the living room and one by one open our gifts in rotation.

That’s when it hit me. Comparisons. That’s why Christmas didn’t seem like Christmas. Christmas Present didn’t compare to Christmas Past. The Bible states: a man must leave and cleave. That’s what I have to do. I am married now and my marriage represents change and a new way of doing things. Instead of living in Christmas Past I am going to deal with Christmas Present and plan for Christmas Future along with my wife. Now that I have reconciled Christmas Past, I look forward to next Christmas despite the obsessive consumerism, the decision of what city to celebrate it in, or whose dinner table we’re going to sit at, because it gives my wife and I the opportunity to establish our own Christmas traditions and define Christmas on our own terms, together, as a couple, as one.

So, bah hum bug to Eben-Ne

December 30, 2002
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