So it’s almost Christmas. I hope you get that pony you’ve been whining about year after year. And if you don’t, please stop fretting. Ponies are horrible pets. They make messes on your carpet, bray at all hours and annoy the people downstairs.
I hope you get that Gameboy, Playstation, T-1650Z, or whatever it is you use to play video games these days. I hope you get a recliner that will massage your entire body, to the point where your eyeballs fall out.
I hope you get that new cell phone that takes pictures, accesses the Internet, washes dishes, cures depression and tells your boss off in nine different languages. I hope you get a new hat, new shoes, another tacky tie and a battery-operated gizmo to display all 600 of them. Whatever you wish for, I hope you find it on Christmas morning. Even if it’s a Homer Chia Pet, I pray it’s under your tree.
Wish lists are amazing this time of year, as our attention is commandeered by the fliers that come with the morning paper and the TV ads that play into the wee hours. There are a billion products aimed at entertaining, soothing and making our lives better. We want the things we don’t have. We want the things we are told we need. We want the things that our neighbors have acquired, but we have not.
I hope you get that device that will shape your ab muscles in 4 seconds while you eat hot dogs. I hope your sweetheart gets you that remote control that can be manipulated telepathically. I hope you get a digital camera the size of a pencil eraser you can use to photograph your memories with a billion megapixels.
I hope you get chocolates if you have a sweet tooth, socks if your feet are cold, booze if you feel like getting ripped.
And I know you’re worried about me because that’s the way you are. But, please stop tossing and turning because you can rest assured. I’ve got what I need.
Each new holiday season, I take inventory. And each time, I find that I have more than enough. Give me a single mint for Christmas, and I’d feel guilty about it. I am prosperous already.
I have everything I require and way more than I deserve. I get to cover crime news in the most interesting community on the planet. I get to write mad, Kafka-like thoughts in a weekly column that the publishers, abused by eggnog, continue to run. I get Web space for a blog and a desk on which to hang my bats, rats and spiders.
I have a wife who loves me, even though nobody can figure out why. I have a great family that sticks around even when I’m bad. I have friends too numerous to mention and so loyal I occasionally think they are robots. Even my in-laws are great.
Many nights, I sit at home writing my nightly thoughts. I look around my room, filled with toys and ghouls and aliens, and wonder when I hit the jackpot. I have a new novel, and I’ve taken to stroking its cover with sincere wonder. When did I make this deal with the devil?
There was no such deal. I’ve worked with unflagging tenacity and gotten a little luck along the way. Maybe a lot of luck. But it was mostly tenacity and a dumb sort of faith.
Christmas to me is more about gratitude than acquiring new things. I have no room for new things. My cup runneth over. I don’t need gadgets that whir, spin or display the hour in all time zones. I don’t need an electronic this or a quantum-powered that. I am a man who has everything.
I hate the day after Halloween, but I love the day after Christmas. Today, the madness of the season is over and the shining possibilities of a new year are at hand. Today, you have tinsel stuck to the bottom of your feet and a whole lot of bills to pay.
But you still have that job, that husband, those kids. You still have the thumbs-up from the doctor, and the car will probably make it another year. There’s oil in the tank, heat in the house and food on the table. If you’re reading the paper in a warm place with coffee at hand, be glad and stop bitching about the pony that never came.
Gratitude, baby! We should all get it for Christmas. We should consider the poor and lonely and hungry. We should help them and be thankful.
Even if you happen to be tired, struggling with finances and mad at the kids about what they did to the dog with the peanut butter. Even if the roof still needs shingles and your brother, that lucky bum, still has it better than you do.
Because Christmas will be here again and again, my friends. If we’re lucky, we’ll do it all again this year and the next with the same griping and the same moaning. And a lot can change in a year, for better or worse. Let’s hope we’re all still here next time around with tinsel stuck to the bottoms of our feet, and television ads still promising the end to unsightly ear hair.