Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Christmas starts with practicing surprised look

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Publication: Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date: Dec 23, 2010; Section: Opinion; Page: 10A

Christmas starts with practicing surprised look
Jesus, Ted Nugent and Don Corleone part of holiday

My evening was interrupted with yet another delivery. In my best Roberto Duran voice I said to the driver, “No mas, no mas.”

I think he misunderstood me and he replied, “I hope this isn’t your Christmas present.”

It was. The gift my wife carefully selected for me was handed to me naked as the day the manufacturer packaged it with only the fig leaf of the shipping label. The brand and model number were fully exposed.

“What’s that?” my son asked, barely looking up from his book.

“My Christmas present. Surprise!”

My wife called me later from work to check on the kids. When I gave her the latest update on the packages that had arrived, she asked me to look surprised Christmas morning.

If you see me making funny faces in the shop windows downtown, that’s just me practicing my “surprised” look.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. My family enjoys it all. We love the lights and the gift giving. We give generously, beyond what we can afford, and we teach our children about giving. We love sharing the story of Jesus, and we love telling the story of Frosty the Snowman.

In the darkest time of the year, it’s also the brightest. I love hopping in my car with my kids and just driving around looking at Christmas lights. We look every year to see what we can add to our own blinding display.

We do not discriminate. Inflatables and blow plastic, the secular and the sacred, we love it all. If Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy are the Three Wise Men in your Christmas display, send me e-mail so we can see it.

Of course, Christmas is also a massive exercise in logistics for the Wigderson family. Somehow, every year we squeeze in two family visits and still find time to open gifts at home.

That’s three, count ’em, three new hauls of toys that need to find room in the house. I won’t have work space to write my column until spring.

Add to the trip logistics the amount of cooking and cookie baking and imagine a lovely Doreen from Waukesha on the edge of an exhaustive collapse.

It’s not easy to squeeze it all in. As I sit here watching Anthony Bourdain’s holiday special, I’m thinking how the kids and I still have to shop for their mother. Ted Nugent is cooking Bourdain a steak while I’m trying to remember which Christmas CD my wife wanted.

Meanwhile my friends on Facebook are debating which movie is the better Christmas movie, “Die Hard” or “The Godfather.” (“The Godfather,” hands down.) Either way, I have to get my shopping done or I’ll be spending Christmas alone like Kay Adams.

Some people are so stressed by Christmas they feel they have to apologize for just saying the word. Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio said on a panel show, “And I was at – forgive the expression – a Christmas party at the Department of Justice and people actually were really worried about this.”

Forgive the expression? I know who just ended up on Santa’s naughty list.

You think Totenberg would be more concerned about being perceived as so close to her sources at the Justice Department she’s on the party invitation list. I’m lucky if I get e-mail about a local Republican fundraiser the day after it happens.

Which reminds me, do you think my wife would find a ticket to a prayer breakfast fundraiser a cool Christmas gift?

If President Barack Obama’s justice department can have a Christmas party, then I know I can somehow make it through the next few days.

Just when I think I’m about to slip into Scrooge mode for the year and start saying, “Bah Humbug!” to Christmas, I remember the moral of Dickens’ tale. It’s not just to remember Christmas but to keep Christmas in our hearts the entire year.

Which is a good excuse to leave up my Christmas yard lights display all year, too.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

JAMES WIGDERSON

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