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Harris Blackwood: This Christmas, focus on family and creating joy
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

I’m a big fan of Christmas. I am not a fan of the overblown commercial hype that seems to have engulf the celebration of Christmas.

Perhaps we need a refresher. Christmas is the day we set aside to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. Santa Claus and all that other stuff came along later.

It is not “Buy me a Present” day. It is not, as some people incorrectly say, Jesus’ birthday. Jesus was likely born in the warmer part of the year, perhaps spring, because that would be the time that shepherds would have sheep grazing in the field.

The whole calendar thing didn’t get settled for a couple of hundred years when we adopted the current calendar. There was no December at the time of Jesus birth.

My point in all of this is that we should appreciate the simplicity of Christmas and its story. Jesus wasn’t born in a palace, he was born in a stable. It’s just that simple.

It was Jesus who said that it is better to give than receive. We tend to forget that.

I remember when the Sears Christmas catalog, the “Wish Book,” would arrive. I can remember taking that book and a crayon and circling about half the stuff on the many pages of toys. I wanted the latest Hot Wheels, a Slinky, numerous games, a bike and some cowboy guns.

I remember getting a thing called Creepy Crawlers, it had molds and some kind of goo that would mold into all sorts of mean-looking bugs after being heated in a special oven. It was really cool.

Despite my lack of athletic prowess, I always wanted a football, a basketball or a baseball.

I was pretty convinced that Christmas was a strange contest and the one who gets the most presents wins. I have learned otherwise.

I always wanted to buy my mama and daddy something nice for Christmas. I succeeded a few times. I bought my dad some aftershave lotion. He never used it. I also bought my mama some perfume. It was not her scent.

I remember in the last few years of her life, I asked my mama what she wanted for Christmas. “I just want my children around me,” she said. I thought that was her way of saying not to spend money on her. It was her way of saying that Christmas was more about family than anything else.

My mother was diagnosed with cancer on Labor Day in 1996. We thought she might make it a year and a half and wanted to have a special Christmas for her. She died on Dec. 8, just three months later. That was the worst Christmas ever.

Surround yourself with people you love and care about. If you are alone, drive down the road to a nursing home and visit someone who will also be alone on Christmas. Go to a Waffle House and strike up a conversation with a person who is by themselves on Christmas. If talking with strangers is not your thing, then tell a waitress you’d like to buy someone’s meal. It will be money well spent.

Drive around and listen to Christmas songs on the radio. Almost every station seems to play a little Christmas fare on the holiday. Sing like no one is listening, because they probably aren’t. But it just might feel good.

If you think about it, you can find a way to celebrate that might bring a little joy to someone, and it could carry over to you.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on