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Kicking It with the joy of Christmas


Last updated 12/25/2021 at 9:07am

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to The Village News

It doesn’t matter what you celebrate in December. You might wish to celebrate the National Fruitcake Month, or Hanukkah, even the winter solstice. I like Humbug Day, National Hamburger Day, Twelfth Night, and National Twins Day. Some folks have a good time during Kwanzaa but, in my house, it’s called plain ol’ Christmas. And I love it. Every little thing about it.

I love the lights, the tree, the carols, especially writing Christmas cards to friends; but mostly, I love the gift giving. Presents to and from me. I like to gift wrap, too.

Admittedly, I do not fuss about wrapping as much as I once did when I would use double-stick tape to hide between the seams of each package. That was back when every item was boxed in order to make perfect corners. Naturally, each box had a contrasting tissue liner so other than the gifts inside, every package that came from me looked identical.

As the holiday approaches each year, my biggest concern is finding the perfect gift wrap paper. This year every gift I give has the same green and red plaid paper. If you are a girl, you’ll get a red velvet ribbon while boys get a green velvet ribbon.

I’ve practiced this since 1979, the very year I became a single mother. It was my strategy to keep the kids from peeking into their presents. Without name tags, they could not identify their presents. And if caught, they had to open every present right then leaving nothing for Christmas morning. For me, Christmas morning is when gifts are opened. Not before then.

Each December, I haul out the artificial tree and weigh it down with treasured ornaments. Most years I unpack the Christmas dishes for this month since they look nice on the red plaid placemats. Naturally, 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 stocking. The stocking front is graced by the button placket along with the label. My stocking on the other hand is all glittery and white.

When I met my husband online in November 2004, we decided that elaborate gift giving at our age was probably unnecessary. (Actually, what he said was “I’m not going to do it.”) But he did agree to exchange Christmas morning stockings filled with surprises. And more than once, I discovered a fancy pair of earrings.

I’d probably be fussy too if my birthday fell on the 25th of December like his does. So, we celebrate my husband’s birthday every year after 6 p.m. at supper with family.

As an official Pollyanna, the wonder of Christmas still remains in my heart. Just like when I was in the third grade. l believed in Santa because for me, there wasn’t any reason not to believe. 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 they do today, I do not recall where I thought he was. It seems Santa just lived in my heart. I may have written him a list. Certainly not a letter. But, on Christmas Eve, I know I left out homemade sugar cookies for him and they were gone in the morning, so it had to have been Santa coming in the night.

Christmas morning, I was the happiest toe-headed sprite in all of Kansas. I had asked for and got a pair of Roy Roger cap pistols with silver studded holsters. They hung low on my hips and tied around my legs. Just like Roy’s. Everybody knew Dale (Evans) only wore one gun, I wanted to be more like Roy. If only I’d asked for a horse.

There is a picture in the family album of me from that happy Christmas sitting on top of the refrigerator wearing the pistols with a baseball cap stuck over my blonde rat’s nest. I believe my Uncle Charles put me there after I smacked him squarely in the middle between his shoulder blades and announced, “Guess who’s back?”

Even today I’d call myself a brat. Some might say I’ve not outgrown that distinction. That’s okay. Better to have a spark in the gait and a twinkle of mischief than to forget the joys of being alive.

This is certainly the time to rejoice with family, friends, and to pass along a smile to a stranger.

This year as we come upon this celebrated time for the birth of Christ, does it matter whose God we praise? Be it Allah, the Almighty, our Creator, Jehovah, King, Yahweh, Lord, Jahveh, Father, or Supreme Being?

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

What makes us alike is all that is important. We all wish to be warm on a cold night, cool on a summer’s day, and surrounded with those who care for us.

And if we feel self-pity, it’s because we are not doing enough for others. If we feel sad, then we only need to bend our knees and pray for forgiveness.

It’s official. The holiday season is upon us. God bless us everyone. Let peace be in our hearts and around the world. Put aside hate and mistrust and replace them with love. Loving is a choice. Make it yours. As for today, just sit back and wait until you 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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