The Public Eye

printed 12/21/2018

I think it’s fair to say that we have good Christmases and not-so-good Christmases, depending on the circumstances of the secular aspect of the celebration.

Some Christmases are, to borrow lyrics from an old holiday tune, the most wonderful time of the year, while others, again using song lyrics, might conclude with your chestnuts roasting over an open fire.

Let’s dispense with the not-so-good ones that may have been self-inflicted because of an innocent lapse in judgment.

In one case, for instance, were the Three Wise Men to be offered a clear distilled beverage derived from corn and imported from North Carolina, they would, wisely, decline.

Others — I’m just saying — might have seen things differently, and then saw things even more differently, then just saw things and …

Giving a really bad gift can have a similar effect, as in leaving the giver to converse exclusively with himself or imaginary beings, because no one else is all that receptive.

I’m referring to a friend — really, I’m smarter than that — who gave his wife a vacuum cleaner for Christmas.

He might as well have given her a box of horse hockey and said, as another friend’s father did one year, “I got you a pony, but I guess it escaped.”

The ramifications of the vacuum present were severe: she not only got the vacuum cleaner, she got the house, a car and a nice check once a month.

There may have been more involved than the vacuum, although it was rumored that one line in the depositions said, “But it was a Filter Queen!”

Most not-so-good Christmases result from family gatherings and trying to be nice to relatives, no matter how crazy, judgmental, wing-nutty or humorless they might be.

I, for instance, think it would be amusing to say at the dinner table, as you fork into the salad, “Did you know they’ve isolated the salad atom? Yep. It’s composed of protons, neutrons, electrons and croutons. Hahahaha!”

Others might frown and reply, “There’s no such thing as a salad atom. It’s a complex mixture of …”

“Yeah, yeah. It was a joke, okay? Look, just be merry and maybe the bright part will come to you later.”

As a kid, I never cared for the older relatives you saw once year. They would whirl in, grab you in a big squeeze, give you a wrinkly smooch on the forehead and exclaim, “My, how you have grown!”

“Yes ma’am,” you reply, “I try to do it when you’re not looking.”

But now that I’m the older relative, I know what to do and what to avoid. I don’t do clear distilled corn-based liquids, and I keep my thoughts to myself when around the grown-ups, especially at the table.

As for the kids, I enjoy entertaining them but don’t indulge in squeezing, as if either of us would really want that.

I’m sticking with the merry and bright approach, although it would be funny to say, “Pssst, Tommy, did you know that all your presents are just rented and that…”

I wouldn’t say anything like that, because I don’t want to be the cause of a not-so-good Christmas for anyone. I’m sticking with the merry and bright all the way. And that goes for everyone.

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