I have a confession to make: I'm a Christmas baby. I'd like to think I'm the best present my mom ever got, but that would be slighting my sister, Emily.
My great-grandma Radkovic was a big believer in omens and always said my birthday was a sign that I was destined to become a priest. She died before I had to decide whether or not to go to a seminary. I don't think she would be too disappointed with my career choice.
Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. My mom and dad both come from large families and all of my aunts, uncles and grandparents spoiled me rotten. My mom and dad were far from rich, but Emily and I had plenty of what we needed and more than a little of what we wanted.
Later on, when I had a family of my own, I loved Christmas shopping for my two kids, Josh and Jamison. My wife, Josie, and I never had enough money to get the kids everything we wanted for them, but they always got as good a Christmas as I had when I was a kid. And, miraculously, Josie and I did it without credit cards.
Josh and J-mo are teens now, back in Indiana with their mom. They don't care as much about Christmas as they used to. They will care about it again someday when they have their own kids.
I went out shopping Saturday. The stores weren't any busier than they would be on an average summer day. Being the nosy newspaper guy that I am, I asked a couple of cashiers how the season was going. "Up and down" and "okay" were the responses I got...two weeks before Christmas.
Everyone knows how tough things are today, and how they are likely to get worse before they get better. Speaking for myself, I am kind of relieved that Josie and I don't have to spend so much on the kids nowadays.
My heart aches, however, for those of you with young kids at home. Christmas is the one time of year when kids should be spoiled, but who can afford it? Jobs are disappearing, credit is shrinking and everything is getting more and more expensive.
I don't have the numbers to prove it, but I'm guessing there will be more families than ever before in need of help this Christmas. In small towns like ours, neighbors look after one another more so than anywhere else.
If you have even a few extra bucks in the bank, go out and buy a toy to drop in one of the Toys for Tots bins around town, or call the Salvation Army and see if you can help out a family in need with a present, or two.
Christmas is too special of a time to think about a child going without. Do what you can and know that it will make the world a little better, if only for a day.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
A holiday requirement
Here's the feel good Christmas column (from 12/15 CDT) that every editor is required by law to write: