ERROL CASTENS: The devil's in (most of) the details

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

Christmas is in the heart, they say; they also say the devil’s in the details. So let’s stop with the details already and enjoy Christmas.
Andy Williams doesn’t live at your house or mine, so we needn’t pretend every minute is “the most wonderful time of the year.” Nervous breakdowns can be done with style, too.
Martha Stewart isn’t going to show up and hand out demerits for a slightly off-kilter angel atop our Christmas tree.
If the angel tilts, let’s call him/her Clarence and laugh about it. (If Ms. Stewart does show up, we’ll offer her an Oreo and instant coffee to see if she dies, Wicked Witch-style, from the non-gourmet fare.)
Maybe that chance of snow that the weatherman is teasing us with will pan out, but it’s still a safe bet Currier amp& Ives will not be stopping by.
That’ll be Uncle Fred, who’ll tell stories that were endearing the first 147 times we heard them.
But maybe the kids are just getting old enough to pay attention to family lore, so we’ll resolve to let them and Uncle Fred enjoy each other without rolling our eyes.
Perhaps a whiff of cinnamon reminds us of baking with Grandma, which makes Christmas seem an unbearable reminder of her absence from this mortal coil. We could pretend we’re just fine or give in to melancholy, but maybe instead we should swap Grandma stories with a few other people who also remember her fondly. We’ll laugh when we can and cry when we must and accept both as gifts.
If it’s been a tough year and we couldn’t afford to get back home to be with family, we’ll just remember that Mary and Joseph probably would have liked to have been home for Christmas, too.
And if that tough year cut into the toy tally under the tree, that may be a really good thing.
Kids may want every new trifle they see promoted, just as you and I probably did, but the playthings we likely remember best are the ones that didn’t do all the playing for us – such as the cardboard box some expensive and easily broken bauble came in.
Maybe that one gift we were counting on – the one about which we laid down a thick layer of hints – doesn’t show up. More than the absence of the gift, we’re left with being disappointed in that person who could have made the holiday so special if he (it’s almost always a he in this case) had either a brain or a heart.
And that’s when we’ll conjure Handel’s “Messiah” either on CD or in our minds and satisfy ourselves with its declaration of the perfect Gift: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6).
The devil can bedevil many aspects of the celebration, but he can’t touch that detail.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or

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