When I was seven, I got a cowboy hat and dual-holster gun belt, plus twin cap pistols for Christmas. That’s what little boys were into in the mid-1950s. My uncle challenged me to quick draw contests and won every one. There may be a life lesson there, but I’m not sure what it is.
Three years later, my brother and I got matching red bicycles with 26-inch wheels. That opened up many new experiences to us – whole new worlds, in fact. Bikes are a blessing to children and adults.
Two years on, in seventh grade I welcomed the modern era, high tech and access to music with a top-end transistor radio the size of a pack of regular cigarettes. In 1961, the cigarette reference was cool to boy of twelve. So, it didn’t matter that I got nothing else that Christmas because that item was all we could afford.
As these anecdotes illustrate, to children Christmas is much about receiving gifts. That’s not a bad thing, for it brings them joy and the gifts sometimes open up great new experiences for them. As well as showing them the love their parents and others feel for them.
In the next few years, I remember the three TV stations – yes, there were only three then, even in markets like St. Louis – broadcasting keep Christ in Christmas ads and even a program on the subject. Imagine that! Today, thanks to snowflakes and progressives, those stations may wish you happy holidays, but dare not utter the word “Christmas” in any approving way.
In the mid-70s, I recall driving my MGB on Christmas Eves from Urbana to Belleville, each time assessing the year passed and what progress I was making professionally and personally. Some of those years, I took my sister’s horse out for a bracing Christmas morning ride in an inch or two of snow along country roads and across fields.
Also, I sent Christmas poinsettias to my girlfriend in Atlanta. She said Christmas didn’t really begin until they arrived. When I flew to visit her, the tradition of traveling at Christmas took root.
In the 1976 movie Nashville, the presidential candidate asked college students offbeat questions like: “Does the smell of oranges remind you of Christmas morning?” It does for me, because our mother always prepared each of us a stocking with nuts, chocolates, other treats and a large apple and orange. And she fixed eggnog. Today, my sainted wife Kathy continues this tradition in our family.
In the 1980s, when I became a yuppie in San Francisco’s Marina District, Christmas was often about ski trips. The slopes were delightfully uncrowded on Christmas day and we were blessed often with blue skies, bright sun and great snow.
In the 1990s, I secured a center box each year for the San Francisco Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker. I prepared a feast for eight at my apartment and then we left for the ballet. Until I left the Bay Area in 2001, that event was the official beginning of Christmas.
By then, Christmas was about a season, experiences with friends and family, and giving – not receiving. People become difficult to buy for as they get older. Moreover, the satisfaction of giving and seeing the happiness in the faces of others beats receiving.
After Kathy and I married and moved to Carson City, for a while we had a tradition of Christmas Eve here and Christmas morning flights – Kathy, our Awesome daughter Karyn, Kathy’s mom (the best mom-in-law ever) and I – to Belleville for time with my family. Both sides of my family always made me the luckiest boy in town.
Because we could no longer attend the SF Ballet, our new start of Christmas became the annual dinner at our home and showing of It’s A Wonderful Life. That film is quite spiritual, of course. It’s about salvation and also reminds us that one of the beauties of Christianity is that it’s a religion of forgiveness, not harsh justice. And about choice, not domination.
Holiday shopping is very exciting but, unfortunately always underestimated. Buying gifts for your family is a given, but what about relatives, friends, coworkers, bosses, teachers, neighbors, nurse, and the list goes on! So buying for everyone can cost a fortune.
On top of that, you don’t want your gift to blend in with the rest. Baskets, ornaments, and treats can, once graciously accepted, be thrown on the table with the rest of the goodies. So how do you get the biggest bang for your buck?
When choosing a gift, it must be creative, useful and have longevity. Let’s start by categorizing our gift recipients.
If your company does not participate in a Secret Santa gift exchange, you’re on the hook for a lot of gifts. Here’s some cool ideas:
Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews …how do you not go broke?
and the list goes on……
There are many people in our lives who we want to recognize during the holidays (Postal Worker, Sanitation team, Security Guard, etc) so here are some ideas that can accompany a warm Holiday message:
The holidays are a time of giving, and the joy it brings to both the recipient and you is priceless. Fortunately, creative and worthwhile gifts don’t have to be too costly.
Good luck shopping this year and have a wonderful holiday season!
Labor Day is a holiday that appeals to a majority of Americans. Most Americans work for a living, and most laborers get Labor Day off from work. The recent holiday made me think of which holidays are recognized and celebrated by the most Americans.
Independence Day is likely the holiday celebrated by the most Americans. Each American recognizes and celebrates the Fourth of July in their own way, even if fireworks aren’t available. Memorial Day is also recognized and celebrated by many Americans because most Americans know someone who’s served in the military, and again, many people get the day off.
Upon a recent visit to the dollar store, though, I was excited to see Thanksgiving decorations being put on display. While Halloween is still nearly two months away, I feel Thanksgiving, like Independence Day, is one of those holidays that’s most recognized and celebrated due to its mass appeal -- something Christmas and Easter can’t offer.
Thanksgiving doesn’t get the respect Christmas and Easter get, but you too can make your family members rethink the relative importance of the holiday. While Christmas and Easter only appeal to Christians, Thanksgiving is a holiday for all Americans, regardless of religious preference. Even atheists can enjoy Thanksgiving, and I think it’s more important to recognize how thankful we are for the sacrifices of the locals who made America possible than to recognize the birth, murder and rebirth of a man perceived to be the son of God.
As an atheist, I don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter. While the holidays are unavoidably happening around me, I don’t allow myself (or sometimes anyone else) enjoy them. Don’t get me wrong, I give Christmas presents to my immediate family and closest friends, but I give my family and friends gifts regardless of season or reason. There need not be an occasion to give, and as a socialist, I believe that wholeheartedly.
Thanksgiving is a celebration of socialism. It’s the celebration of a bunch of helpless, lost explorers being saved by locals willing to share. Since Thanksgiving is a socialist holiday, every attendee of my Thanksgiving Extravaganza (A.T.E. for Anthony’s Thanksgiving Extravaganza) is encouraged to bring something -- anything -- to share. Whether you have something old you don’t need that someone else might, or a book you’ve read that you think someone would find helpful or entertaining, you can share it with someone at A.T.E. who needs it more than you. You can also bring food for the traditional Thanksgiving meal, of course.
It’s not just the sharing that I love about Thanksgiving. It’s the days spent cooking. I find cooking and baking very rewarding. Your time in the kitchen is an opportunity to be artistic and improvisational. You try new things and learn a trade that will come in handy the rest of your life. It’s even therapeutic. I spend most of my days off from work in the kitchen, and with football on in the background all day, I can spend 12 hours in a kitchen on Thanksgiving and hardly notice.
Losing football on Thanksgiving would be as detrimental to the holiday as losing Easter eggs on Easter or Christmas trees on Christmas. I’ve never experienced a Thanksgiving without football and never want to. Football will be forever linked with my celebration of Thanksgiving because during A.T.E.’s Thanksgiving Tailgate, the kids open Thanksgiving stockings stuffed with stocking stuffers. The stockings are football socks filled with candy and small gifts.
We do Thanksgiving baskets at A.T.E., too. They’re like Easter baskets but, again, themed Thanksgiving. You might find an Easter biscuit shaped like a turkey or a plastic Easter egg filled with coupons for services to be rendered. There is no exchange of cash at A.T.E., but there is a gift exchange. Each attendee is asked to bring a gift or gifts valued at no more than $16.21 (the year of the first Thanksgiving) to be given to the person or persons in attendance for whom they’re most thankful.
There is no Black Friday shopping that occurs at my celebration of Thanksgiving, either. The only money spent during A.T.E. goes to the locals who saved white lives only to be forced from their homes in return. A.T.E. concludes with a journey to the nearest Indian casino, so attendees can show how thankful they are for the locals saving their ancestors’ lives by losing some of what their ancestors stole back to the locals.
Here’s my itinerary for A.T.E. You can use it as a model for your own Thanksgiving celebration. Next year, I hope to have a fireworks display to make my Thanksgiving rival any American holiday.
9:30 AM to 11 AM: Thanksgiving Tailgate/Thanksgiving Stockings and Baskets
A traditional football tailgate with a traditional tailgate breakfast -- burgers, brats, beers and a Bloody Mary bar. This will also be when we open Thanksgiving stockings and Thanksgiving baskets.
11 AM to 3 PM: Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions
We’ll watch the Vikings destroy the Lions on the big screen.
3 PM to 6 PM: Los Angeles Chargers @ Dallas Cowboys
We’ll watch the Cowboys destroy the Chargers, which shouldn’t take long.
6 PM to 7 PM: Thanksgiving Dinner
Your typical Thanksgiving dinner, with vegetarian options as well, and enough pumpkin pie to feed us for weeks.
7 PM to 7:30 PM: Thanksgiving Gift Exchange
We’ll give our gifts to those for whom we’re most thankful.
7:30 PM to 9:30 PM: New York Giants @ Washington Racial Slurs
We’ll watch the Giants destroy the Racial Slurs while rooting for the Racial Slurs, because it’s Thanksgiving. This will also be the time designated for tryptophan naps and games.
9:30 PM - ???: Voyage to the Native(’s) Land
We’ll go to the casino, where we have rooms reserved. If you’d like to reserve a room for yourself and your party, you can do so by letting your host know.