Last year on Christmas Eve morning, The Todd and I shared in something utterly amazing.
(Photo Credit: Muriel Heard-Collier)
Late the night before, I’d been on the phone with a frantic coordinator from one of the local community refugee services. Four families from the Sudan just arrived in Salt Lake City pretty much with only the clothes on their backs, family members lost along the way, but here. We had only a few frantic hours of social media begging and pleading before we (hoped) everyone would:
- Spring into action on the busiest day of the year during our morning radio show which starts at 5AM.
- Bring 4 families everything from boots and coats to microwaves and bedding.
- Wrap and organize all the presents, remembering what sweater went to which kid in which family.
- Help us deliver everything.
This is how made of Awesome our friends and listeners are: they did it. In less than 3 hours. With so much left to spare that we had to make another stop at the YWCA to drop off presents there, too. It was like the Attack of the Christmas Ninjas.
(Photo Credit: Intellichick)
After meeting these little people, getting snuggles and dropping off the gifts, I don’t think I could be more in love with them. Their first Christmas. How do you even PROCESS something like Christmas when you come from the war-torn Sudan? We tried to explain. But since there’s things about the Holidays I sure as heck don’t understand, I’m not sure how well I did.
Stuff I Do NOT Get About The Holidays
(Photo credit: Michael Kappel)
1. Elf On The Shelf: Really? Where is this from? Why is he here? Why are parents required to spend hours rearranging him into thousands of different scenarios that would likely have gotten me spanked as a child if I’d tried them? Anyone remember the last loveable children’s doll that started moving around by itself? “Chucky” ring a bell? Look at that face. The Elf on the Shelf is not your friend. Those beady eyes and insincere smile are identical to those of the guys who roll tourists and steal their organs for the black market. Trust the Elf on the Shelf and I’ll bet you wake up in a bathtub of ice with your kidneys and pancreas missing.
(Photo Credit: Martin Beek)
2. The Mad Dash For Christmas Music: the curse of my career. Listening to Program Directors fret.
Him: “Should we go All Christmas? Should we do it now?”
Me: “Don, it’s August 16th.”
Him: “Yeah, but the guys at KZOW will go All-Christmas before October. You know they will!”
The true horror of this conversation? K-whatever likely will go All-Christmas before you’re even figuring out what the kids are wearing on Halloween. And then we’ll have to go All-Christmas. And guess what? There are like, 3 Christmas songs you actually know, along with Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah” which we throw in for “diversity.” So, we have a playlist of maybe 30 songs and I am forced to listen to listen to the Backstreet Boys sing “Jingle Bells” 3,912 times before the personal hell that the Holidays have become is over.
Which leads me to…
(Photo Credit: Mitcka Gardener)
3. The Christmas Shoes: I recognize that anyone I haven’t managed to offend by thinking the Elf on a Shelf is creepy is going to hate me for believing with every fiber of my being that this Holiday staple is an abomination. Look, taste in music is subjective and personal. Like Patrick Henry and freedom…or…like…whatever he was defending…I will defend to the death your right to love this song as long as you know it is created from carcinogens, murder and the tears of small children. You do not know what it is like having to hear the overwrought wailing of the singer from New Song caterwauling “Hiiiiit was nearly Chriiiiiistmus tiiiime” over and over and over again during the Holidays. I want you to be happy, I do. I want you to be sitting in your car gripping the steering wheel with a single tear coursing down your cheek as you realize the True Meaning Of The Holidays. I want you to be listening to my radio station when this happens. I just don’t you to be listening to “The Christmas Shoes.” Because that means I am being forced to listen to it, too. (Editor’s note: if you really, really hate “The Christmas Shoes” too, you need to watch Patton Oswald’s diatribe. You will laugh so hard you will sever an internal organ. Be warned that it has naughty language. Very, VERY very naughty language. Very.)
(Photo Credit: Tom Gill)
4. Smarmy Bell-Ringers: Dude, I am here for you. My kids save a portion of their allowance every year for the Bell-Ringers because they love to put the money in the bucket or boot or whatever you’re using. We have had the discussion of where their money goes. They know little kids like them need a nice Holiday, too. But while we’re doing it, could you avoid doing the following?
- Hitting on me. Did you notice I’m wearing a wedding ring, Casanova?
- Hitting on my underage children.
- Commenting on the cake in my shopping bag, “man, that’s got a lot of calories. You sure you need that?”
- Yelling at my children when they drop the change and have to try it again. It’s windy. Your bucket is a moving target, brother. Chill out.
(Editor’s note: let me say that I was a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army and proud to be so. They are good people and an amazing organization. I cannot tell you what these people go through. During the course of one live radio morning show from my chilly corner, one kid stuck his chewed gum under my bucket like it was the underside of his desk. Several people flipped me off. One guy agreed to give a one dollar donation but “only if I could break a $100.00.” So I get it. I do. But maybe find a date on your time off, okay?)
(Photo Credit: Rev. XSB)
5. Spending The Big Day With People You Hate: I learned this important fact a long time ago. Family is sometimes what you create, not what you were born with. I’ve heard unspeakable stories of abuse, (emotional, physical and more) during the “Happy Family” holidays. I have friends who go into a deep depression this time of year because they can’t take another day of dreadful memories, but they feel obligated to revisit the House of Horrors.
“It’s the Holidays!” Family members hiss, “we’ll all be there but YOU! What’s wrong with you!”
I have been blessed with a riotous, weird, wonderful family that I’m thrilled to see. (Editor’s note: Not that we’re perfect, mind you. Last Christmas, my sisters and I actually invented a drinking game where we took a swig of eggnog for every time our Dad told us we were:
- Had big feet
- Had weird teeth–“Are those fake?”
- Took away our dessert and ate it, saying “I’m trying to save you from those calories.”
- Said “your child is badly behaved.” “Is that the adopted one?” “Where’s the smart one at?” “That one is too short to be related to me.”
All of us were three sheets to the wind by 10pm. Although my father has always done this, he now has dementia and we can’t do anything to him. Except smile vaguely and walk away. Sorry, that was a long Editor’s note.)
You didn’t get the good, weird, fun family? Gather with friends you like, change up the holiday and go bowling and eat Thai food. Do what makes you happy and honors a day where we celebrate something that is sacred to each of us. And if all else fails, come over to my house. There’s usually, like 256 of us and with all the add-ons, only half or so speak English. I’ll find you someone who speaks the language you understand. Unless you’re the annoying one. In which case I’m sitting you next to my father.
Reprinted with permission from The Todd & Erin Favorite Five.com
(Cover photo credit: Ahoy Polloi)