Paul Fell

“I think as you grow older your Christmas list gets shorter, because the things you want can't be bought.” – Earl Dibbles Jr.

I like this sentiment which is variously attributed to a handful of bloggers but seems to point back to a 38-year-old singer songwriter named Granger Smith and his altar ego, Earl Dibbles Jr. Just Google it and you’ll see a number of pithy sayings that don’t sound like they’d come from anyone under 40. But, I digress.

With Christmas just a handful of days away, let’s talk about making it less complicated. Let’s just appreciate it for the day it is. If you’re a believer, it’s about the birth of Jesus. Maybe for you it’s just about Santa Claus. Maybe it’s just about giving, or getting, or just about family.

Blogger Stephen Altrogge says people cling so tightly to Christmas because it “helps us forget about our problems for awhile. For a few, brief days, everything seems as it should be. We long for a white Christmas because the snow covers up all the mud and muck.”

Ah yes, a white Christmas. Just part of the many colors of Christmas shopping which starts the day after Thanksgiving with Black Friday. Yes, I have noticed that Black Friday savings are now being touted before Thanksgiving. “Why wait ‘til Black Friday?” has become the hue and cry of on-line retailers.

Interestingly, the mom and pop shops have found their own day, “Small Business Saturday” which now follows Black Friday.

For those of you following along on your computer, there’s Cyber Monday. Throw in a dose of Giving Tuesday and then it’s Hump Day. Check out Facebook for Throwback Thursday and you’ve monikered up every day of the week except Sunday. But that’s good because it is supposed to be a day of rest.

So. Imagine my surprise when just today I discovered something called Green Monday. The term was allegedly coined by eBay 10 years ago to describe the best sales day in December, usually the second Monday. Business research firm comScore refers to it as the last Monday with at least 10 days prior to Christmas. Oh duh.

Altrogge says he knows that Christmas is “supposed to be magical and special, but it often feels like a veneer covering badly rotted teeth. I know that not all is as it should be, and Christmas can be a poignant reminder of that.” But wait, perhaps Christmas is actually the antidote to the rotten world.

The reality is that as we start believing in Santa less and interpersonal relationships more, our list changes. Physical objects no longer satisfy us. Happiness, peace and understanding can’t be wrapped or shipped or sold. We want these three things because we can feel them deeply and know they will make a difference in our life and others.

J.L. Schmidt is the statehouse correspondent for the Nebraska Press Association. He has been covering Nebraska government and politics since 1979. He has been a registered Independent for 18 years.

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