The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 10, 2013

Christmas a humbug? No más, no más

By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Perhaps Ebenezer Scrooge was right after all.

You remember Eb, the star of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” a mean guy, a miser with serious anger and sleep issues, prone to seeing ghosts in the middle of the night? Yeah, that’s the fellow.

When pressed for his views on Christmas, the pre-ghost Ebenezer spouted the following, “If I could work my will, every idiot who goes around with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart!”

Granted, that’s a bit of an extremist view, but at the moment I can appreciate Scrooge’s enmity toward the holiday.

Christmas is driving me nuts. I am so far behind on Christmas I will be lucky to be ready by Easter.

The presents aren’t bought, the tree’s not up, the house isn’t decorated, the cards aren’t written. Nothing. And the calendar is rapidly filling with Christmas parties, church events and the like. And there are only two weeks to go.

Christmas seems to have snuck up on me this year. They are celebrating it on Dec. 25. Who knew?

Remember when Christmas was simple? When you are a kid, the only thing tough about Christmas is the seemingly interminable wait for the big day to come. For children, the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas crawl past like months. For those of us for whom childhood is rapidly receding in life’s rear view mirror, they speed by like minutes.

I thought I was ahead of the game. On a balmy Saturday in mid-November, I put up my outside lights. I chortled to myself as I watched my neighbors go about their business, while I hung and strung and flung. They would be sorry, I thought, when they are out in the cold, shivering as they hang their lights, while I sit inside my warm and cozy home.

Which would have been true, except a key piece of my display, multiple strings of lights hung in the shape of a Christmas tree, keeps burning out and blowing fuses. So there I am, standing in the cold, pondering the vagaries of ohms and amps and going through string after string of lights, freezing my Christmas spirit off.

The in-house decorating was not going well over the weekend, when I whined to my bride, “I’m tired of Christmas already, and I haven’t even started on it yet.”

She just rolled her eyes and went about her business. She’s used to my little outbursts after putting up with me for nearly 39 years.

But it just doesn’t seem like Christmas. After all, what is Christmas supposed to be about? It’s about decorating, shopping, eating and partying. It is about perfection — perfect gifts, perfect decorations, perfect get-togethers. It is stressful, pressure-packed and diet-busting.

It’s enough to make you want to cry, as boxer Roberto Duran did long ago while quitting during a fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, “No más, no más.”

But Christmas is not supposed to be stomach-churning and stress-inducing. It is not supposed to be about perfection. It is not about throwing flawless soirees or giving the most peerless, most expensive gift. It is not supposed to be about parties or even church programs. It is not supposed to be about sending just the right card or putting up the most magnificent decorative display.

That is all más, Spanish for “more.”

Take the “más” out of Christmas and what does that leave? Christ.

It took the visits of four ghosts to do it (the spirits of Christmas past, present and future, plus the ghost of his dead partner, Jacob Marley), but even old Ebenezer finally came around. Christmas is about love, hope, charity, fellowship and joy, not trees, shiny bulbs, cookies, pies and toys.

Christmas is to be enjoyed and celebrated, not dreaded. What I said about being tired of Christmas, I take back, though I would feel much better if I could keep my darn lights from burning out.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.