Kick with the joy of Christmas

Elizabeth youngman westphal

Special at Village News

It doesn’t matter what you celebrate in December. You might want to celebrate National Fruit Cake Month, or Hanukkah, or even the Winter Solstice. I love Humbug Day, National Hamburger Day, Twelfth Night, and National Twins Day. Some people have fun during Kwanzaa, but in my house it’s called good old Christmas. And I like it. Every little thing about it.

I love the lights, the tree, the Christmas carols, especially writing Christmas cards to friends; but most of all, I love gifts. Gifts to and from me. I also like to wrap gifts.

Granted, I don’t care as much about the packaging as I did before when I used double-sided tape to hide between the seams of each packaging. This was back when every item was wrapped in order to create the perfect corners. Naturally, each box had a contrasting fabric lining, so other than the gifts inside, every package that came from me looked the same.

As the holidays approach each year, my biggest concern is finding the perfect gift wrap. This year every gift I give has the same green and red checkered paper. If you are a girl you will get red velvet ribbon while boys will get green velvet ribbon.

I’ve been doing this since 1979, the same year I became a single mother. It was my strategy to keep the kids from looking at their gifts. Without badges, they couldn’t identify their gifts. And if they got caught, they had to open all the presents right away, leaving nothing for Christmas morning. For me, Christmas morning is the opening of presents. Not before.

Every December, I take out the artificial tree and weigh it down with precious ornaments. Most years I unwrap Christmas dishes for this month because they look pretty on the red checkered placemats. Of course, there are matching napkins to go with the brass reindeer candle holders and of course our homemade Christmas stockings.

Several years ago one of my husband’s LL Bean plaid shirts was sacrificed for his bottom. The bottom front is decorated with the button placket and the label. My bottom on the other hand is all glitter and white.

When I met my husband online in November 2004, we decided that the elaborate giveaways at our age were probably unnecessary. (In fact, what he said was “I’m not going to do this.”) But he agreed to exchange Christmas morning stockings full of surprises. And more than once I have discovered a pair of fancy earrings.

I would probably be just as picky if my birthday fell on December 25th as hers. Thus, we celebrate my husband’s birthday every year after 6 p.m. at dinner with the family.

As the official Pollyanna, the Christmas wonder always stays with my heart. Just like when I was in third grade. I believed in Santa Claus because for me there was no reason not to believe him. After all, when you get what you want, why not trust your heart and believe? That year I got exactly what I asked for.

Because our small town didn’t have a shopping mall for Santa’s headquarters like it does today, I can’t remember where I thought it was. It seems like Santa Claus just lived in my heart. Maybe I wrote him a list. Certainly not a letter. But, on Christmas Eve, I know I left out some homemade sugar cookies for him and they were gone in the morning, so it must have been Santa Claus coming in the night.

On Christmas morning I was the happiest elf in all of Kansas. I had requested and obtained a pair of Roy Roger hooded pistols with silver nail cases. They hung low on my hips and were tied around my legs. Just like Roy’s. Everyone knew Dale (Evans) only carried one gun, I wanted to look more like Roy. If only I had asked for a horse.

There’s a photo in the family album of me of that Merry Christmas sitting on the fridge carrying the guns with a baseball cap stuck to my blond rat nest. I believe my Uncle Charles put me there after I punched him squarely in the middle between his shoulder blades and said, “Guess who’s back?”

Even today, I would call myself a kid. Some might say that I have not gone beyond this distinction. Its good. Better to have a spark in the process and a glimmer of mischief than to forget the joys of living.

It is certainly the moment to rejoice with family, between friends, and to transmit a smile to a stranger.

This year, as we come to this celebrated time for Christ’s birth, does it matter which God we praise? Whether it is Allah, the Almighty, our Creator, Jehovah, King, Yahweh, Lord, Jahveh, Father, or Supreme Being?

What really matters is in our hearts and by our actions. Does it matter if we seek our personal peace on top of a mountain or on a prayer rug? Aren’t we all made with the same parts?

What makes us alike is all that matters. We all want to be warm on a cold night, cool on a summer day, and surrounded by those who take care of us.

And if we feel sorry for ourselves, it’s because we are not doing enough for others. If we are feeling sad, we just have to bend our knees and pray for forgiveness.

It’s official. The holiday season is upon us. God bless us all. May peace be in our hearts and in the whole world. Put aside hatred and mistrust and replace them with love. Loving is a choice. Make it yours. As for today, sit back and wait to hear, “Now, Dasher!” now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen! Santa Claus is coming to town!

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal can be reached at [email protected]

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