By Grant McGee: Local Columnist
I saw Santa Claus in downtown Clovis last Saturday. I know he was Santa Claus because his long white beard was real, he was in his suit and he was jolly.
I asked Santa if he liked the 7Up and Ritz crackers with peanut butter I left out for him when I was a little boy. He said they were good but he preferred milk and cookies because the peanut butter stuck to his bridgework.
Christmas has meant different things to me over different times in my life.
When I was a kid, it meant presents: teddy bears, a Johnny Reb cannon that fired real cannonballs made from plastic, a submarine powered by a giant rubber band, a James Bond attaché case with a hidden camera and a bunch of other stuff that I’ve long forgotten.
When I was a teenager, there was a backpack and sleeping bag under the Christmas tree along with camping tools. I was set for back-country hiking.
Another teenage Christmas I was hoping to get a Jeep. My father handed me a small box with a bow. I opened it with great anticipation. Instead of the keys to a new vehicle I could take rambling through the mountains, forests and deserts there was a small toy car … a Jeep. A good laugh was had by all. That’s what I say now, but back then I was pretty disappointed.
When I became a parent I came to see a new meaning for Christmas. Christmas is for kids. My little ones were always full of bright-eyed anticipation over the growing pile of stuff under the tree, beside themselves with excitement when they caught a glimpse of Santa Claus at the mall.
One late fall evening big flakes of the season’s first snow began to fall. I called my littlest one over to the door to have a look outside. Her eyes got real big and she gasped.
“Santa will be here soon,” she whispered.
With the children all grown now I see Christmas as a time for good feelings.
It’s a time for family, to visit kinfolk all over the country. It’s a time to try to put the past away and just get together for good food and conversation.
I think it should be a time of good cheer toward other folks.
As for this “merry Christmas” or “happy holidays” issue: People generally understand it’s Christmas time. For Christians it’s the time of Jesus’ birth, for our Jewish friends it’s Hanukkah, for our pagan friends it’s the time of the winter solstice and so on. I’m sure if someone is slighted by my “merry Christmas” wish they’ll tell me.
I had a Jewish friend back east. I asked him how he handled everybody wishing him a “Merry Christmas.” He said he adapted. His two little girls were concerned because all their friends had Christmas trees and Santa was coming. He brought a pine tree into his house and they decorated it; it was called the “Hanukkah Bush.” And instead of Santa Claus, his girls were expecting a visit from “Harry Hanukkah.”
Every year I have the same wish. I wish that the good feelings, the smiles, the greetings of Christmas could be spread throughout the year.
I think that’s something Santa and I have in common.
It’s apparently not peanut butter and Ritz crackers.
Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org