A Christmas without gifts is a good thing… for us.

I started working in stores when I was in High School, working summers and Christmas vacations. My husband’s start in retail was similar. We even met while working in a store. We must have fifty years of working in the retail industry between us.

But this year was very different. This is the first year since we met that neither of us as worked in retail during the holidays.

If you haven’t worked in retail, you may not understand the implications of that. When you work for a retailer during the holidays, it means that you aren’t likely to have the day after Thanksgiving off. It may even mean that you have to be at work extra early the day after. Or in recent years, it may even mean that you have to go to work before your dinner is even digested.

It means that you work on Christmas Eve. You probably choose to eat dinner out because you’re too exhausted to cook. We actually have a tradition of getting Chinese take-out on Christmas Eve because of our long history of getting home late.

I could go on… We’ve had good careers in retail, but it is a lovely change to be able to completely avoid the malls at this time of year.

No Christmas lists. No last minute rush. I was even blissfully ignorant of the last day to order online is this year.  Or knowing a store’s return policy.

We’re not deprived. We’ve just decided to give our gifts at other times this year. And to savor the season with music, movies, candle light services, good food and friends.

Ahhh. This could be the start of a new Christmas tradition!

wc10Photo credit:  MyFrenchCountryHome.blogspot.com

It would not be Christmas for me, if I didn’t revisit Erma Bombeck’s much read Christmas post.

Where did Christmas go?

There is nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.

Not to feel the cold on your bare feet as you rush to the Christmas tree in the living room. Not to have your eyes sparkle at the wonderment of discovery. Not to rip the ribbons off the shiny boxes with such abandon.

What happened?

When did the cold, bare feet give way to reason and a pair of sensible bedroom slippers? When did the sparkle and the wonderment give way to depression of a long day? When did a box with a shiny ribbon mean an item on the “charge?”  

A child of Christmas doesn’t have to be a toddler or a teen.  A child of Christmas is anyone who believes that Kings have birthdays.

The Christmases you loved so well are gone. What happened?

Maybe they diminished the year you decided to have your Christmas cards printed to send to 1,500 of your “closest friends and dearest obligations.” You got too busy to sign your own name.

Maybe it was the year you discovered the traditional Christmas tree was a fire hazard and the needles had to be vacuumed every three hours and you traded its holiday aroma for a silver one that revolved, changed colors, played “Silent Night” and snowed on itself.

Or the year it got to be too much trouble to sit around the table and put popcorn and cranberries on a string. Possibly you lost your childhood the year you solved your gift problems neatly and coldly with a checkbook.

Think about it. It might have been the year you were too rushed to bake and resorted to slice-and-bake with no nonsense. Who needs a bowl to clean — or lick?

Most likely it was the year you were so efficient in paying back all your party obligations. A wonderful little caterer did it for you for $3 per person.

Children of Christmas are givers. That’s what the day is for. They give thanks, love, gratitude, joy and themselves to one another.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have children around a tree. It’s rather like lighting a candle you’ve been saving, caroling when your feet are cold, building a fire in a clean grate, grinding tinsel deep into the rug, licking frosting off a beater, giving something you made yourself.

It’s laughter, being with people you like, and at some time falling to your knees and saying, “Thank You for coming to my birthday party.”

How sad indeed to awake on Christmas and not be a child.

Time, self-pity, apathy, bitterness and exhaustion can take the Christmas out of the child, but you cannot take the child out of Christmas.

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Erma Bombeck died in 1996.  I would venture to say that she achieved what she hoped for as she stood before God.  What a wonderful talent she had.  A true gift for making people smile.  And for challenging us to embrace what really matters in life.

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Photo via Dalycia Phipps, Pinterest

We are hoping that Santa won’t be mad… sometimes a Corgi just needs a cookie.

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Enjoy this wonderful season with those you love… including those warm, furry friends that bring so many smiles.

Merry Christmas!

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It’s not Christmas without Erma Bombeck’s column:

There is nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.
Not to feel the cold on your bare feet as you rush to the Christmas tree in the living room. Not to have your eyes sparkle at the wonderment of discovery. Not to rip the ribbons off the shiny boxes with such abandon.

What happened?
When did the cold, bare feet give way to reason and a pair of sensible bedroom slippers? When did the sparkle and the wonderment give way to depression of a long day? When did a box with a shiny ribbon mean an item on the “charge?”  A child of Christmas doesn’t have to be a toddler or a teen. A child of Christmas is anyone who believes that Kings have birthdays.

The Christmases you loved so well are gone. What happened?
Maybe they diminished the year you decided to have your Christmas cards printed to send to 1,500 of your “closest friends and dearest obligations.” You got too busy to sign your own name.
Maybe it was the year you discovered the traditional Christmas tree was a fire hazard and the needles had to be vacuumed every three hours and you traded its holiday aroma for a silver one that revolved, changed colors, played “Silent Night” and snowed on itself.

Or the year it got to be too much trouble to sit around the table and put popcorn and cranberries on a string. Possibly you lost your childhood the year you solved your gift problems neatly and coldly with a checkbook.

Think about it. It might have been the year you were too rushed to bake and resorted to slice-and-bake with no nonsense. Who needs a bowl to clean — or lick?
Most likely it was the year you were so efficient in paying back all your party obligations. A wonderful little caterer did it for you for $3 per person.

Children of Christmas are givers. That’s what the day is for. They give thanks, love, gratitude, joy and themselves to one another.
It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have children around a tree. It’s rather like lighting a candle you’ve been saving, caroling when your feet are cold, building a fire in a clean grate, grinding tinsel deep into the rug, licking frosting off a beater, giving something you made yourself.
It’s laughter, being with people you like, and at some time falling to your knees and saying, “Thank You for coming to my birthday party.”

How sad indeed to awake on Christmas and not be a child.
Time, self-pity, apathy, bitterness and exhaustion can take the Christmas out of the child, but you cannot take the child out of Christmas.