I’d like to set the record straight.
I love Christmas music. I love Christmas.
I must have laid it on pretty thick a couple of weeks ago when I went on my annual rant about Christmas commercialism. I’ve received a ton of e-mails and I’ve been stopped on the street by people who think my name is Ebenezer Scrooge. Two little old ladies approached me in the supermarket and said, “Shame on you, Mr. Shaughnessey, how can you not like Christmas music? You have children, don’t you?”
One e-mailer wrote: “You call yourself a Christian?” A lady walked into Hem’s Plus, the tailor shop in Dracut where my wife works as a seamstress and said, “I can’t believe your husband doesn’t like Christmas music.”
What I was trying to convey — apparently not too well — was that I don’t like hearing Silver Bells in October while I’m still raking leaves. I was trying to say that the Christmas rush starts earlier and earlier every year. The kids come home from trick-or-treating on Halloween and it’s time to put up the Christmas tree.
When I was a kid, Christmas officially started when Santa Claus came riding down Broadway at the very end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Christmas decorations started going up around the first week of December. I don’t believe there was any such thing as Black Friday. My mother would head to the bank and empty out her Christmas Club account and we’d head downtown.
I love Christmas, and as the big day approaches, I’m sure I’ll love it more and more. When my son comes home from college on Dec. 18 for the semester break, I’m sure I’ll be fully in the Yuletide mood. As more and more houses light up the night sky, my anticipation will grow. When Merry Christmas Charlie Brown or It’s a Wonderful Life or Elf is broadcast on television, my Christmas spirit will be in full swing.
I’ll be dreaming of a white Christmas with every Christmas card I write. When my church choir meets on Sunday evenings to go over the music for the annual Christmas Cantata, or when we travel to Cary Hall in Lexington on Dec. 19 to take part in the annual Messiah Sing, I will have Merry Christmas on my lips.
When we put up the tree and pull out the ornaments from years past — the handmade sleigh that Jay made when he was 13 or the snowman that Tami made in Mrs. Baker’s Sunday School class in 1990; the little wooden sled that Lee made when he was 10 or the Christmas stars that Kathleen and Rory made that have their faces on them — then I’ll be overwhelmed by Christmas spirit.
When I walk through the door and the kitchen is filled with the warm smell of Diane’s Christmas coffee cake baking in the oven, I’ll have Christmas spirit. When everyone has gone off to bed on Christmas Eve and I’m up alone, wrapping that last gift while watching Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol on DVD, I’ll have my Christmas spirit on.
I do, however, still harbor the dream that someday Diane and I can take off to the mountains and rent a cabin and enjoy a Christmas all by ourselves. Just once. I used to say we’d do it when the kids got older. But now there are grandchildren so, chances are, we’ll never get away. Just as well. Christmas is a time to enjoy family.
On Christmas morning, when we open our Christmas gifts after reading the second chapter of Luke, I’ll have Christmas spirit. Christmas music — perhaps James Taylor’s “Who This Night Comes” or Ron Hamilton’s “A Simple Kind of Christmas” or Handel’s “For Unto Us A Child Is Born” — will be playing in the kitchen as I cook bacon and eggs and the kids try to figure out how to operate their new electronic gadget.
I’ll have Christmas spirit was we head next door after breakfast to greet Diane’s parents. The kids are grown now, but I’ll see them as they were, red-nosed and rosy-cheeked, running with excitement to Nana and Pepe’s house.
So yeah, I have plenty of Christmas spirit. I just like to save it for Christmas.
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