LESLIE CRISS: Christmas spirit needn’t be lost in the hustle, bustle

By Leslie Criss | NEMS Daily Journal

“Next to a circus there ain’t nothing
that packs up and tears out faster
than the Christmas spirit.”
– Kin Hubbard
My 14-year-old niece, Bailey Cook, was nearly 5 before she met Santa face to face. He happened to be in the day we visited Santa Land somewhere in the mountains near Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Bailey surprised us all by climbing up on the jolly man’s knee and verbally spilling the contents of her Christmas list.
It’s not that her parents didn’t try to hook her up with Santa in her earlier years. We all tried.
One year I even attempted bribing Bailey into a photo with Santa, but she was having none of that.
From the time she could utter her first words, her reason for not wanting to get up close and personal with Santa Claus remained the same: “Too big.”
Enough said.
The December she was 2, we were riding through neighborhoods, looking at lights. We passed a house decorated to the hilt – like a thousand buckets of Skittles exploded in the front yard.
All of us were stunned into silence. But suddenly a tiny voice broke forth from the darkness of the back seat. It was Bailey Cook: “Too much.”
Perhaps that what’s wrong with those people angrily pushing, shoving and dispensing pepper spray while shopping.
Maybe it’s why so many folks drive like maniacs through parking lots or look mad at the world as they pay for their purchases.
Perhaps it’s why we often experience that post-Christmas let-down – or as my mama called it, the after-Christmas blues – the moment the day has ended.
Perhaps we simply try to make Christmas “too big.” By doing “too much.”
I’m not sure why we do that to ourselves unless it’s our way-too-high expectations to make this Christmas the merriest ever – trying hard to top last year’s.
Yet in the attempt to manufacture cheer we, instead, stress out. And the result is, well, a bunch of Scrooges grumbling at store clerks and anyone else we encounter along our way to Christmas.
There are times when I’ve been one of those grumblers, unhappy at having to stand in line to pay for my purchases. One holiday season while impatiently standing in a line, I heard what sounded like the spirit of Christmas.
A man was chatting cheerfully with the cashier, telling her about his four children. He seemed full of joy at the prospect of Santa’s having to deliver for four.
As I listened to him, I realized I was smiling.
Too big? Too much? It doesn’t have to be. And, truth be told, it shouldn’t be.
Relax. Revel in time spent with friends and family. Reflect on what the season’s really all about.
You might just catch the spirit.

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