A keeper all year long

Published 3:34 pm Friday, November 27, 2009

Now that the grandest of holidays is over this year, we are all faced with the most curious of holidays: Christmas. And I must say, that as big a fan as I am for Thanksgiving, I’m not really into Christmas.

But as I was out and about in the Black Friday air, I passed an older gentleman I’d never met who decided to have a playful exchange with me. “Hey big man,” he said, “I know what you did last night,” pointing to my gut as he spoke. “Somebody enjoyed their Thanksgiving, huh?”

Not only was he a pleasant old man, but he was a psychic. For no more than a few hours prior, I was shoving a country ham sandwich into my face, capping off my Thanksgiving dinner.

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“Yes, sir,” rubbing the fruit of culinary conquest that is my stomach as I answered him. “You have a Merry Christmas, young man,” the man said as he walked off. And in that exchange I was reminded of the one thing I do enjoy about the holidays—the holiday spirit.

There’s a line one crosses between childhood and adulthood where the enjoyment of Christmas relies upon different things. As a child, enjoyment of the holiday depends upon whether or not you got whatever it is that you wanted for Christmas. But when adulthood hits, enjoying the holiday seems like it comes from making everyone on your Christmas list happy, in a timely and economical fashion.

And in this busy world, so few of us adults achieve that enjoyment. The season somehow gets clouded in a sea of retail. And the holiday spirit — the one thing I do happen to enjoy about the holiday — falls into the cracks.

So it was a nice surprise when I went to take pictures at the Grand Illumination Ceremony in downtown Suffolk. I got a little dab of what the holidays are supposed to mean.

I saw children running around with their friends, clearly only making busy while waiting for Santa to arrive. I saw old friends and former neighbors reunite while buying cups of hot chocolate. There were teenagers laughing and really enjoying being with their families. (Those parents with teenagers know how truly rare that can be.)

Overall, I saw a community that really knows how to celebrate the season.

So as we head into this busy holiday shopping season, with all the horror stories about people getting trampled to death in the malls and shopping centers, trying to get the latest hot deal, it would be nice to keep that spirit of the holidays in your mind and heart.

That spirit is not about being the victor in a cutthroat quest for goods and services that will make your loved ones happy. It is about giving of oneself and reconnecting with those with whom we’ve lost touch.

Plus, spreading the holiday spirit is a gift for which you don’t have to stand in line or get a return receipt. It’s a keeper all year long.