Does this Dec. 24 find you ready to enjoy Christmas in whatever way you traditionally celebrate the special day? Most of us have some kind of tradition that can vary from a quiet, thoughtful day to one with many family members present and a big family meal.
Before Christmas, when I was doing a little shopping at a local store, I had some interesting experiences. One was in the Christmas spirit, and the other had a sad note.
As I was looking for an item, down the aisle came two bright young girls, perhaps 8 or 9, full of energy and enthusiasm. One of them ran into me, and their mother smilingly said to me, "Holler at them for me, will you?" I smiled back and said that I enjoyed seeing their bright, energetic faces and didn't think they needed me to say anything. She smiled back and said thank you.
They were just two young folks getting in the spirit of Christmas and enjoying themselves, not destructive or unruly.
As I was checking out, there was a man in front of me with just a couple of items in his hand. While we waited, Christmas music was playing over the store loud speaker system. This man turned to me and said, "I hate all that Christmas music." He surprised me, and I asked him why. He said that to him it was just so much noise and he would like take his gun and shoot those speakers.
My response was, "Wouldn't it be easier to just flip a switch?" and he grunted, maybe.
Then he said, "I know what I want for Christmas."
"Oh," I responded, "and what is that?"
"I want a life. I have had three wives and they have all been a disaster and I haven't had a good life."
About that time he could checkout, so I didn't have a chance to respond. That probably was a good thing because I didn't really know what to say. As he left the store, he turned back, and I did wish him a merry Christmas.
Sadly I watched him leave, because he obviously needed some help, and I wasn't really able to provide that help. My hope is that he does find some way to experience joy over the holidays.
On the bright side, about two weeks ago we received the most interesting and cheerful letter from Sarah, an Amish wife and long-time friend. She and husband Albert have a large family, and we marvel that she finds time to write us a five-page long-hand letter in beautiful handwriting.
Reading her letter is much like sitting across the table and talking with her. One can almost see the things she has been busy with over the past year. She tells about Albert being busy in his woodworking shop this year, making items for people and feeding the many birds they enjoy. They have three new grandchildren this year and now have 15 grandchildren, 11 boys and four girls.
Christmas at their house will be on Jan. 6 when all the family will get together. She says the men help with the dishes that day, with a little friendly grumbling.
During deer seasons, they got four deer, and Sarah has been busy canning meatballs, gravy and sloppy joes. Some steaks and deer burgers were frozen out on the patio.
Last summer they went to a benefit auction and won a young cow. The animal turned out to be unmanageable, and Sarah's description of what all happened was hilarious. They finally had to butcher her and the meat was good, she said.
We always look forward to Sarah's letters. They are a classic.
In closing, Christmas does have a way of coming into our lives. May you have a merry one!
Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune.