Christmas Spirit

People are nicer during Christmas. Strangers hold a door open a little longer, we give of ourselves a little more freely. We more kind to each other. Even poorly mannered children say “Please” and “thank you” because Santa is watching. I wish it was that way all year long. The world would be a better place. It’s the Christmas spirit, a chance for rebirth during our holiest season. It’s hope for peace, health, and prosperity in a new year.

Christmas Story:
I have this magical “thing”. Not sure what it is, but at this point, well into my 50’s, it is undeniable that I possess “it”.
I consider it a gift.
I have Christmas “spirit”, and it oozes out of me and gently covers everyone around me with love and joy, cinnamon and peppermint. It’s impossible to be around ME, during Christmas, and not sing and dance, or decorate something.

Every year, someone crosses my path who is a Scrooge, a lost soul, torn and wrecked because of personal trials or disappointment, and who has lost the spirit of Christmas. It’s easy to lose the spirit of Christmas, but there is nothing like that feeling of rebirth. Personally, I think it is the best gift I could ever give.

One year, Dad was dating a cute lil’ sprout of a redhead named Pam. She was in her mid-40’s, an ICU nurse, had grown children, and 3 grandchildren. I was in my late 20’s, just cashed out from the firm in Miami, and moved home to resolve my mother’s problems. I was living with Dad that year. As Christmas approached, Dad and I made the annual trek to the tree lot, and brought home the big tree for the living room, and regular 8′ ones for the family room and dining room. We were putting them up, trimming a few boughs, and Pam was sitting at the bar, nursing a bourbon and water. I was mildly annoyed she wasn’t helping us because Dad and I needed 12 arms each.

I went to grab another pair of snips, walked past her when she said, “I haven’t seen a Christmas tree in the house since I was 7yrs old.” I took a few more steps, slowing down like an aircraft carrier, and turned to her, “What did you say?” She told me the story…… Horrible childhood. No presents that year when she was 7yrs old, and she actually received coal in her stocking. I had heard the legend of people who received coal but never met ANYONE who actually received coal in a Christmas stocking. She did. At that time, she still believed in Santa and Santa brought her… coal. Her father was cruel and left her mother the following day, December 26th. Her mother, feeling the loss, never put up another Christmas tree, and died young, when Pam was 14yrs old. Pam carried the loss into her adulthood. Her kids and then grandchildren, never had a Christmas tree. Pam was an accomplished woman, no one would have ever imagined the pain underneath……..

Between the Bourbon and the tears, I finally said to her, “So, you mean to tell me, you’ve been carrying around that $hit baggage for almost 40yrs, anxious about the month of December, hating on Christmas…… full of old dred?” She nodded. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “For 40yrs?”, I asked. “Yeah”, she admitted. “Well, don’t you think 40yrs is long enough?”, I proposed. It was time to pack the old crap up and throw it away, especially for the kids and grandchildren. She admitted she thought about breaking up with my Dad, “since we were such a big Christmas family”. I looked at her like she was crazy, “You mean, you would rather hang on to 40yrs of weird misplaced grief, than spend Christmas with a guy you love?” Just talking it out, realizing the oddity of it all, saying the words, gave her a little bit of hope. She agreed to……….. try.

Dad, the Marine, has a “thing” for Christmas. He decorates the outside to the hilt. People drive by his house to see his lights. So, he goes to garage sales all year long to buy stuffed toys, comes home and launders them (some don’t make it but most do). Then, he dresses up in a Santa suit, every night, in front of the house, and gives stuffed animals to the kids in the cars who have driven by his house to see the lights. THAT was Dad. Pam didn’t know if she could handle it and was anxious.

Well, she turned into a Christmas elf. Don’t get me wrong, I could have been Mrs Claus, but for Pam, it was 40 yrs worth of pent up Christmas spirit all coming out at the same time. It was slow at first. But she was always over for dinner and we were always doing something related to Christmas. Pretty soon, I was the right hand and she was the left hand. We worked together beautifully. One night, I came home from a late class, and there was a 6′ tree at the end of the kitchen peninsula. She was humming in the kitchen. I motioned to the tree, teasing her, and said, “You want to explain..?” She looked guilty, “It was on sale, and I thought we needed another one.” I nodded…. we did….. and it was beautiful!

We made Christmas stockings for her kids and grandkids….. they didn’t have any.

We MADE peppermint that year (I’ll never do that again), popcorn balls, peanut butter balls, fudge, and all kinds of breads and casseroles. One night, we sat on the kitchen floor, still making meatballs at 2:00am…….. it was her mother’s recipe……. which she had saved but hadn’t made in 40yrs.
We made enough for a diabetic coma! She had the nurses over for a party – she had never done anything like that before. I was so happy for her…. in the lead. She was a natural, and I swear, you could SEE the light shining from inside her. She glowed like an angel.

On Sundays, we usually had her kids over for a big lunch. Her son cornered me and asked about “the Christmas thing”. I told him the story Pam told me. He never knew the real reason why his mom hated Christmas. She had never spoken about it.

A few nights a week, Dad slipped over to Pam’s apartment to spend the night. Mid December, out of the blue, Dad hugged me bigly. She had told him of our conversation. Pam’s apartment was decorated to the hilt……. overblown Christmas explosion. Dad was exhausted though, no sleep for him, Pam insisted on sleeping with all the Christmas lights on.

Middle of December, Pam decided we had to “make a trip to the country for pine boughs”. Okay fine, a trip to the grocery store is fun for me. Dad was supposed to go but for some reason, he couldn’t make it at the last minute. Pam was sad at the prospect of canceling. “No problem, we can do it.”, I said. Off we went. We drove almost 100 miles into Mississippi before finding “adequate” pine boughs and cedar…… one of the best days of my life. Pam was beaming, brimming with Christmas spirit. We came home loaded with clippings and ANOTHER tree, tied to the rooftop, for the deck. We then decorated the BACK yard.

We went to church on Christmas Eve as one big family. Pam didn’t have a church but that was okay, our’s was big enough for spares. She softly cried most of the way service, raw emotions right at the surface, especially when it came time to sing. Dad kept trying to hold her hand and ask her what was wrong. I already knew. Happy tears, and bittersweet for all the years she lost. She was back, among the living.

And along the way, she kept inviting people to Christmas dinner. We had 24 that year for Christmas Eve. It was GREAT! And our living room was small, but by the time Christmas morning rolled around, there were so many presents, you couldn’t get INTO the living room…… grandkids……. you know how it is!

And that was the year Pam got her Christmas spirit back.

So, this year, if you find someone who is in need of a little Christmas spirit, give them some of yours. If you need spirit, find it. We only have so many years on this earth, don’t waste a single one…… by holding onto the sadness of years gone by. Cast out the dred. Let it go. Warm your cold old heart. The year 2020 looks to be a promising one for us all.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
82 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
kea

Awww daughn!!!! 🙂
FYI I love that people are saying Merry Christmas again.

kinthenorthwest

Yes isn’t it so nice to walk into a store and get told Merry Christmas
Or when you say Merry Christmas they respond with Merry Christmas instead of a some wierd look & just maybe getting a Happy Holiday response back.

OW21

Wonderful story, Daughn. You are a natural story teller. You know that, right? Thank you for sharing and Merry Christmas to you!

OW21

Oh, no! Don’t edit. The free flowing characteristic of your narration is your strength, I believe. It’s like sitting on the front porch with an old friend and swapping stories. So genuine and appealing.

OW21

Hahaha! Me, too! Have a good one!

Linda

Love the story, Daughn! Pam’s kids and grandkids must have really been shocked (in a good way) at the change. I’ve just been through a couple weeks of a nasty flu, so my spirit has been a little down this year. But I’m beginning to perk up. Hopefully, I’ll be back up to par when Christmas gets here.

kinthenorthwest

Daughn wow that was so beautiful…Thank you thank you….
So here is a Christmas song for you and all the people on here–Seems to kind of go with the story!
The Christmas feelings people share
A time for peace – a special time
In the hope we may find
Deep within every heart
The love that very special kind
A love to carry us along
To carry it be on
Christmas and the love that it gives
The soul of every Christmas song
Roger Whittaker ♥ ♪ ♥ A Time for Peace

kinthenorthwest

Merry Christmas–I will share more…

wheatietoo

I know what it’s like to have a family tragedy happen at Christmas time, that kills the Christmas spirit for a while.
My little brother was shot and killed…murdered by his ‘best friend’…a few days before Christmas.
He was only 13 when it happened.
I was a little older, but still a teen…and my parents were devastated.
It took a few years before any of us managed to get some Christmas spirit back.
Seemed wrong…to celebrate at the time of year that we lost a beloved family member.
I was the first to start getting some Christmas spirit back…and started nudging the rest of the family, especially my parents…by giving them gifts at Christmas.
Then putting a wreath on their door and bringing over Christmas cookies, etc.
What helped, was having children of our own to make Christmas for.
It helped my parents too…and they began putting up a tree again — for the grandkids.
🙂
Thankfully, our grief didn’t spoil Christmas for us for…40 years (!!)…like it did for ‘Pam’.
Wow. 🥺
That’s a long time.
I feel sorry for her kids.

trumpismine

What a tragedy wheatie. Now that is a reason to spoil a families Christmas spirit. So glad you and your family got it back! God Bless you and your family and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

wheatietoo

Thanks, TIM.
😊🤗

Coldeadhands

Just thinking about such a loss is awful. I’m so sorry for your family.
God bless.
In spite of all of our grief, there’s the reason for the season…the Redeemer. “Come to me, all who are heavy-laden and I will give you rest” This is a time of year when it seems most appropriate to “turn it over to Him”
“God bless us everyone!” Merry Christmas!

wheatietoo

Thank you, CDH.
😊🤗
And…Yes! That is what the season is all about!
Merry Christmas!

gil00

I am very sorry your family had that tragedy. I hope the time has given your family a way to remember and still celebrate happily.

wheatietoo

Thanks, Gil.
😊🥰
It’s been a long time now, but we still miss him…and wonder what he would’ve been like as an adult.
What made it harder at the time…was that his death was written up as “accidental”.
Because the boy said he “didn’t mean to do it”…and there were also local politics involved.
🙄😠
But we knew the truth.

gil00

Yes thats salt in the wound. Maybe some time that adult will admit it.

wheatietoo

Last we heard, he’s been in and out of jail.
😕😏
So…I guess his rich father couldn’t bail him out of everything.

wolfmoon1776

Just horrifying. You have my deepest sympathies, Wheatie. Hugs and prayers. What a burden – I would have never known if you hadn’t said something.
More hugs, and wishes for a Merry Christmas! You deserve it! So wise of you to help return the Christmas spirit to your parents!
<3 <3 <3

wheatietoo

Thanks, boss.
😌😊🥰🤗

wheatietoo

Thank you.
Merry Christmas to you and yours, Daughn.
😊🥰🤗
I’m sorry if I put a damper on your thread.
😔
This day brings back memories.

Plain Jane

Wheatietoo, I’m so sorry for the loss of your brother.
God took one of our grandsons back to Him two weeks before Christmas, at six month gestation, and another grandchild about a week before Christmas, but He let us keep our DIL. Several months ago He gave us our miracle baby, and he is strong like an ox, and wonderfully alert.

patfrederick

so sorry wheatie!!!
what a horrible thing to happen!

kinthenorthwest

When going through my Christmas CD songs I realized this one belonged over here ,,,,
May everyone have a Awesomely Blessed Saurday……

ForGodandCountry
kinthenorthwest

Wow–Thank you ForGodandCountry–this is a song I have never heard…
Will put it in my list
Merry Christmas

ForGodandCountry

All the Kingston Trio Christmas songs are excellent. My parents loved them and this is one of my favorites from childhood.

kinthenorthwest

Back in the 70s I saw them in Mammoth Mountain Calif…
It was drizzling rain most of the time..They passed out big huge trash bags for everyone to huddle under.
Remember the lead singer kept breaking strings(had one for a long time). He would step back for a couple of beats & then was back with them…

cthulhu

I have a Kingston Trio t-shirt from a tour that brought them to the Flint Center in Cupertino. We were among the youngest there.

kinthenorthwest

Oh I bet
They are good but their fans are kids of the 60s which I am loll

Coldeadhands

That’s a Christmas album from my childhood. Thanks

ForGodandCountry
trumpismine

Another Great read Daughn!
Poor Pam for getting a lump of coal for Christmas. My thinking is it had to be the father that did that. What an Ugly thing to do😱
When I was young and working my first job shortly after getting married, pulled into the plant parking lot and saw an old man crawling out of large dumpster. It was a day or so before Christmas and it was bitterly COLD! I felt for that old man and went over to him and invited him in for a hot cup of coffee and to warm up before back to no doubt the rail spur we had there.It had a profound effect on me that Christmas and still haunts me.
What I’m trying to convey is there’s many unfortunate people that could use a little help. Give what you can and you’ll feel so much better!
Merry Christmas Everybody!
W. C. Jones: “The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing other’s loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas.”

Teagan

My husband’s parents were almost illiterate immigrants and worked hard for every penny…but, they did have a comfortable life.
For undoubtedly a series of complicated reasons (always centered on financial ) ….Xmas was not a joyous time in their house.
The only new item DH ever received as a child was “underwears.” All his toys from previous years given to him by spinster aunts were wrapped up every year and put back under the tree….parents never gave him any toys. The tree was always bought on Xmas Eve because whatever was left on the lot was 50 cents.
Yet, these are the same parents that moved out of their seaside house every summer and camped in their garage loft to save enough money for DH to go to med school and graduate debt free.
Just as Daughn’s story character, Pam, was affected for years it shaped DH’s view, as well. (BTW, I do NOT give him “underwears” for Xmas!).

trumpismine

Simpler times when the majority of people , (especially my parents who lived through The Great Depression) were just happy to have food and celebrate with family and friends.
I was lucky being a boomer where us 3 kids always got a little something. Not so my wife who was 1 of a family of 11 that many years they they got just an item of clothing and nothing else.
The kids of today for the most part are so much more fortunate.

Nor'easter

“FORTUNATE”… Maybe.
But not necessarily “BETTER-OFF”!
😉

trumpismine

Ageed☝️

cthulhu

The true message of the season is healing and redemption — and making things better than they were before.
This memory is a beautiful example. ‘Tis a time to unlock 40 years of pain.

Dora
Dora

Christmas displays with Baby Jesus put up at over half of US state capitols
CHICAGO, December 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — This Christmas season, over half of America’s state capitols will showcase the Baby Jesus as nativity scenes take center stage during the Christian holiday. Throughout the month, Christmas crèches celebrate the Savior’s birth in conspicuous places on state property with the approval of 27 state governments.
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/christmas-displays-with-baby-jesus-put-up-at-over-half-of-us-state-capitols

Deplorable Patriot

I’ve been accused of being a Scrooge simply because I don’t get into the Christmas spirit until about the 22nd or 23rd of December. Until then, all is preparation. Put up the tree, run the oven for baking, hours of rehearsing (although, this year, there is literally NOTHING new in the music department. 😠 It’s the same stuff. Same descants. Same same same. I may have to get out Haydn’s Christmas Oratorio just to satisfy the “I want to learn new stuff” itch), can’t exercise and wear yourself out before Christmas Eve, etc.
I mean, it’s a lot of work, and the most enjoyable parts for me are the pro level choir music making. We’re all on the same page (except the basses) having the same goal. No divisions. No politics. No family fights. Just a bunch of people singing away to inspire the Congregation – and believe me, it happens.
Once all that’s over, and Christmas – the Birth of the Savior – is here, THEN the spirit flows. By that time, though, just about everybody else is Christmased out. I mean, it’s tragic, IMO, for evergreen trees to be in the gutter on the 27th when Christmas has ten days to go.
BUT, in the dominant culture, this season is not about that. Sad.
That being the case, though, and since actual Christmas music is four days off, how about some stuff from the Gospel According to Luke? These are two of my favorite Church pieces…and I won’t get to sing either since the pastor banned the first as the word “Gloria” is in it and we aren’t to sing Gloria until Christmas Eve, and the choir director doesn’t like the Farell “Magnificat” for some reason.

https://youtu.be/15AccZAcdpk

Deplorable Patriot

To give you an idea on the music frustration, this popped up in my YT feed, and I swear I sang this at the Cathedral. There’s SO MUCH out there, and we use the same 10 carols all the time. And the David Willcocks arrangements, too. He hated sopranos.

Deplorable Patriot

Another of my favorites I miss singing.

Plain Jane

The Magnificat, my favorite BVM prayer. Beautiful DP. TY.

Deplorable Patriot

Sorry, Daughn, for being cranky about it all. I’m just getting over a cold and my Advent this year has been not what I wanted it to be.

Deplorable Patriot

Much, thank you.

grandmaintexas

Great post, Daughn. You remind me of the Ghost of Christmas Present in the Dickens’s story.
I always get in the Christmas spirit with films. One of my all time favs is Desk Set with Tracy and Hepburn. A rollicking romcom with a Christmas theme.

grandmaintexas

Very. Scrooge doesn’t describe that jerk. I had one of those too. Kicked him to the curb and have my guy now. Thirty years next year.

patfrederick

I ADORE Desk Set!!!!

grandmaintexas

Me too!!! I will watch it again in a week or so. Such a delightful story.

patfrederick

I love that she’s a smart cookie…no weak roles for Katherine!

grandmaintexas

She was one in a million.

patfrederick

agreed! I also love The Philadelphia Story!

grandmaintexas

Another favorite of mine!!!!

patfrederick

old movies are the best!

grandmaintexas

Yep. No comparison with the stuff that gets produced now.

patfrederick

totally agree.

Dora
gil00

I took kiddo over to grandma’s for his Christmas presents last weekend. His aunt is supposed to be over today for his other gifts. Neither side of the family gets together so we have separate days. No one would get together either. Its kinda sad that mr gil’s father ignores his only grandkid but kiddo doesn’t notice and Im grateful.
In public Ive gone out of my way to say Merry Christmas but I think Californians in general arent very happy. Too many ither things going on politically, like increasing minimum wage starting Jan 1 and forced mandated healthcare, for happiness to be widespread.
Always making a point to say please and thank you and look at people to say Merry Christmas is at least a noted consideration and sets a good example for the little guys.

wheatietoo

You’re a bright light to others, Gil, and probably warm the hearts of others that don’t even let you know it.
😊🥰🤗
I hope and pray that California has better days ahead.
It used to truly be the ‘Golden State’…and hopefully it will be again.
Merry Christmas, Gil, to you and yours!

gil00

Merry Christmas
Wheatie!
comment image

Dora

The ambulance with its sirens and the cars with their blasting horns just rode down my block letting us know that Santa is near.
I hope you all have that in your neighborhoods. It’s so much fun. 🙂

GA/FL

Alison Krauss rode on a bus all night to record the Wexford Carol with Yo Yo Ma. It’s so beautiful.

wolfmoon1776

Love it!!! <3

Plain Jane

DNW, thank you for this beautiful story of renewal of spirit.

wolfmoon1776

Amen!

patfrederick

wonderful story!!!
how much closer are you finishing that book, cuz I could use more stories!!!
I’m glad you were able to convince the spirit hiding inside her to make another appearance. you remind me of an artist who takes a lump of clay and encourages the beautiful vase to emerge…you have a gift!

jamcooker

I am glad that Pam was able to find her Christmas spirit!
One of my daughters who’s been divorced now for about 3 years admitted to me recently that she was relieved that gifts at Christmas in our family are optional, tend to be home made or a favorite treat. Her ex had a very large extended family and it was expected to provide gifts for all the extended family. She got very creative, and would make gifts, but it was obligatory and she approached it like a business. She’s suffering “gift burnout”. So I am hoping she gets her Christmas spirit back after a while.

kea

Poor Pam.
I have to admit trying to find my Christmas spirit has been hard. My father passed away almost 2 years ago I love Christmas time but just really trying to get into it again is just so hard.
I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one. Mom was commenting about this as well the other day.
Last year we didn’t do anything really except a nice meal. This year I didn’t put up a tree because tree + puppy dog don’t mix. But I did pick up a little live tree at Trader Joe’s so we are trying to get there.

wolfmoon1776

Wonderful story! Happy tears! <3

kinthenorthwest

Two more for you all and especially you daughn for all your good works.

kinthenorthwest

Remember they are all looking down and watching us…I do believe for they have been there for me often
Angels Among us by Alabama
https://youtu.be/zCYFPMjCgKA