The conversation with an old friend, who I see about once a week, was coming to a close.
“Hey, if I don’t see you before Dec. 25, Merry Christmas!” I yelled over to him as we walked toward our cars.
The absurdity of it hit me immediately.
Why am I rationing the number of times I say Merry Christmas to someone? Why would I wait to say it until the very last time I see someone prior to Dec. 25?
Apparently, I’m rationing my Christmas cheer this year, and it’s got to stop.
Before you get the wrong impressions, I’m not one of those guys who starts singing about sleigh bells as soon as Halloween passes. I refuse to put up our Christmas tree until after Thanksgiving. I don’t like to put up the outdoor lights until the morning of the Ohio State-Michigan football game. I seldom hand out Christmas cards until after the Feast of St. Nicholas (Dec. 6, for you non-Catholics and the occasional non-German Catholic out there).
And, workwise, I find the month of December monotonous, based on the number of holiday-related events people want us to cover in the newspaper. Trust me, we could get a picture of St. Nick on the front page every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas if we wanted.
As I look out at today’s country, though, it seems like we could all use a little holiday cheer.
The stuff happening on the front page of the paper seems to be putting people in a foul mood, based on the number of people who felt like yelling at me this week. It was about three times the number of yelling phone calls I usually get, which was already too much.
After I hung up with a few of these, I chuckled to myself as I mumbled to myself, “And Merry Christmas to you, too.”
I wish I’d said it before I put the receiver down. I think we could all benefit from being reminded about what most of us hold in common. The bulk of us still believe in faith, family and friends.
Really, that’s what the Christmas season ought to be about. I know people try to squeeze presents in there too, but that shouldn’t ever become more important than those three key ideals that make us Americans and make us Ohioans. And we all have that in common.
We shouldn’t be so focused on what separates us. Yes, there are real problems in the world, but there is real good in it, too. Most of the people I know, even the ones with whom I disagree most stridently, still share a belief that faith, family and friends are the most important elements of their lives.
So don’t be surprised if I start hurling “Merry Christmas” greetings everywhere I go. I’m going to stop rationing them. I think we all benefit when we’re reminded of what unites us and what’s most valued in our day-to-day worlds.
David Trinko is managing editor of The Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest.