It’s December 24 and another goal achieved.

By making it to December 24, I have achieved the goal of seeing another Christmas. Christmas is always been a blessed and wonderful day in each of the years of my life. As a child, Christmas meant that the house to be decorated and full of the aromas of Christmas food. There will be a decorated tree in the house and hopefully by December 25 many presents under that tree. My mother and father would take me to church and I would listen to the preacher and a Sunday school teacher talk about the real meaning of Christmas. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and the birth of a religious movement. But honestly, as a child it meant it was going to be a happy time and hopefully a spirit known as Santa Claus would visit our humble home and leave me some gifts. As I grew up I found December 24 to be one of most exciting anticipatory days of the year. I was filled with the spirit of Christmas and I began sharing that spirit with others even at a young age. It became important to me to give to others as well as receiving myself. Slowly but surely I found myself enjoying the moments of giving as much as the ones of receiving. Each December 24 I worked hard to make sure that I had presents for everyone in my life. I smile while remembering I made Christmas ornaments that I gave to my mom one year for our Christmas tree as my gift to her. I smile and remembering the hand-drawn picture I drew with a crayon and gave to my dad has his Christmas gift. I also smile in remembrance of the first time I went with a church youth group and bought some small Christmas gifts for what we called then the poor.

As I got to be a teenager, and realized that Santa Claus was not a person but a spirit, I became a little more cynical and my world became a little smaller. Now I wanted bigger gifts and I had to go get a job to be able to give gifts to just my immediate family. At first I found myself a little disappointed that I only had two or three wrapped gifts under the tree, when I was a smaller child there must’ve been 20. It was also during that time that I realize that the cost of those gifts was so much more than when I was little.  This was the first time in my life that I realized picking out a gift for someone was a little more complicated then drawing a picture of them in Crayola.

As I became a young man my world once again became larger, I still found December 24 to be an exciting day. Now not only was I finding it hard to buy gifts for the family but there are others, mainly girlfriends, in the picture. It was the first time that I started giving money to certain agencies like the Red Cross hoping that it would help them in this time of the year. By the time it came around to December 24 I was usually in a panic mode as I still hadn’t gotten all the presents I needed. During those days there were few shopping centers and you had to go to a downtown area to a department store to find that certain gift for that special someone in your life. It was my first exposure to walking past the perfume counter in a department store. I can’t say that it was pleasant but it wasn’t terrible either. I was just amazed at the price somebody would pay for a small bottle of perfume. By December 24 the sales were on, the crowds are big and the parking was impossible.

Then came my wife and children. They were all excited about Christmas. By December 24 the apartment, that was before I could afford a house, was filled with excitement. By this time all the presents had been bought, but I had to wait till late at night to help Santa put them together. That was my first exposure to foreign countries instructions on how to put together what was called the simple toy. So December 24 marks a day of accomplishment, the presets were bought and with a little more effort at the end of the day I was happy. I do not want you to think that I had forgotten about the real meaning of Christmas. I told the stories of Christ’s birth to my children and reminded them that it wasn’t just about presents. They listened and learned. I am proud to say today my sons carry on the tradition including the story about the birth of Christ. It was also during this time that I was a policeman in the city of Los Angeles and whether walking a beat or driving in a patrol car, I observed all those unfortunate souls who are not able to enjoy Christmas as I did. One of the most amazing sites to me was the number of homeless people, literally thousands of them, in the different areas of the big city of Los Angeles who tried to carry on the tradition of Christmas. You could observe them wearing a holiday hat and singing holiday song, many times in a language I did not understand. Some of the lone men, who were regularly in jail for alcohol abuse or drunk in public, actually look forward to going to the local jail to be able to receive a Christmas meal. The most hurtful view was that of the children many without parents who seem to move from place to place during the day and sleeping in cardboard condos at night. I was amazed at the many churches and social agencies who reached out to those people in the spirit of Christmas with everything from blankets to food and always with the reminder of the word of God. And at least on that day I did see some hope in the eyes of my fellow officers and in the mood of the city. Unfortunately December 25 did not seem to be as hopeful as of the day at December 24.

As the years went on and I advanced at my workplace, December 24 meant the end of all those office parties. In the beginning they might’ve been fun but the reality at the end was that you went to the party or else. Bosses and board directors always felt that it was supposed to be a fun time for the workers. But the reality is there’s a lot of pressure when you put coworkers in a social environment that is not work. Almost without fail every year some person, fool, what actually voice their opinion to the boss or the board. This is usually achieved with the use of alcohol. So in the later years the party would be advertised as a non-alcoholic event. But somehow, someway, someone would bring the booze and a poor fellow worker would fall upon the sword of what they really thought and then had to suffer through the rest the year. That’s why December 24 was a worthy goal to be achieved and surviving the office parties without causing problems. After December 24 most offices believe that it was family time and did not require the presence at a company party.

I would also like to mention that December 24 marks the next-to-last day of the continual playing of Christmas songs both on television and on the radio. Not that I do not like Christmas carols, but I really get tired of hearing jingle Bell rock performed by a variety of artists every 45 min. December 24 is usually the last day of television specials concerning Christmas, they were not necessarily a religious performance.

I appreciated making it to December 24. All the pressures of the season would have been achieved or by this time was  not going to happen. December 25 was a day to enjoy all the effort. It is a day to enjoy the birth of Christ in a church or religious setting and watch the Christmas Day parades with all the hard work that many people put into making me smile. December 25 is a day to enjoy family and all the surrounding experiences.

This is a day that I’ve rejoice by achieving another goal of making it to December 24. I look forward to many things during the year, but December 24 is one the important goals that I work hard to achieve. December 25 is a day that I enjoy and my heart and my eyes seem to swell up with tears every now and then watching the response of the young and the remarks of the old come together in a positive song.

Merry Christmas to all and congratulations for making it to December 24.

Pops

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