'Twas the Night Before Christmas . . .

Gatti, Gatti, Maier, Sayer, Thayer, Smith & Associates always put on a beautiful Christmas light show. All photos are taken at their offices in Salem, Oregon.
Gatti, Gatti, Maier, Sayer, Thayer, Smith & Associates always put on a beautiful Christmas light show. All photos are taken at their offices in Salem, Oregon.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, but you couldn’t prove it by me.

Somehow this Christmas I just couldn’t get it up, so to speak. With the economy turned turtle, I’ve been tightening my financial belt for a couple years now, and there’s not much tightening room left.

On the other hand one of the major points of Christmas is to take a break from life’s tiresome, demoralizing realities. Let’s face it, if it wasn’t for Christmas, Americans would probably never make any effort to see their relatives. Season after season we visit our dysfunctional families, playing out our time-honored interpersonal dramas word-for-word as if it were a ritual reading of A Visit from St. Nicholas. You know,

Twas the Night Before Christmas

And all through the house

Not a creature was talking

To his or her’s spouse.


Old skeletons were hung by

The chimney with care


. . . and so on.

Yet, I love Christmas.

Besides the fact that Christmas forces us into a not entirely voluntary state of warmth and nostalgia, and encourages us to listen to wonderfully cheesy music, it requires us to think, even superficially, once a year, of others. You can’t ignore that Salvation Army bell ringer, without feeling a twinge of guilt. Even if the guilt lasts only until you start your car. And buying gifts for others, an expensive and sometimes tedious task, keeps you in touch with people you are complacent about the other 364 days of the year. Those sometimes tenuous connections might snap if the holidays didn’t roll around annually.

For those who truly can ignore the holidays, I bear a jealous resentment. I cannot. I do not. And hell, I guess I wouldn’t if I could.

When you’re a kid, Christmas is easily the best day of the year. But each year as you grow up, the magic slips away. The biggest of all bummers is when you stop believing in Santa Claus. That first year as a non-believer, say at seven years of age, isn’t so bad. There’s compensation. You feel grown up. It’s one of those coming of age moments. You get puffed up and overconfident, as you laugh at the “little kids” who still believe in Santa Claus. But by the time you’re middle-aged, you want to believe again, and not just in Santa Claus. You want to believe in a lot of things you believed in before you got so damn smart and stopped believing in anything you couldn’t see or touch.

Then the holidays roll around and the neighbor kids are out of school. You hear them playing in the brisk weather singing We Wish you a Merry Christmas, just as you did way back when. And just for a moment you remember what it was like to be a kid at Christmas. And for an even smaller moment, you believe in Santa Claus, and the years and the disappointments and the realities of your life fall away. And in that moment anything . . . anything at all . . . is possible!

I wouldn’t give that yearly mini-sabbatical up for anything.

So, I didn’t do a tree this year and I’m not cooking a turkey. I did, however, hear some kids down the street singing, We Wish You a Merry Christmas , and for one brief shining moment, all was right with the world.

I can hardly wait for next year!

So, have yourself a merry little Christmas on me . . .

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