Shaking off the GrinchWritten by Kevin Milliken | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, my family finally got caught up in all of the holiday hullabaloo that makes Christmas the fun tradition it should be at our house.
For some reason, I was having trouble getting there this year. Normally I’m the guy people love to hate during the holidays. You know that person: He fills his car with Christmas CDs and starts playing holiday tunes right after Halloween. That’s also the person who fills the front yard with plastic figurines and every type of twinkling light, just so they can brag their seasonal electric bill shot up to $1,000 or so.
This year, though, it took seeing other people’s lights to get me going — and a 60-degree weekend to get caught up.
A favorite tradition in our household is to catch the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert, which usually makes me catch the holiday spirit. But TSO played Toledo back on Nov. 5, too soon for Christmas cheer.
Count me among the Chip Davis fans — my son jokingly calls me Nerdheim Steamroller.
I took my daughter to TSO, because she’s turned into a teen whose life revolves around rock ’n’ roll. It’s fun scoring “cool dad points,” watching her play air guitar without even realizing it, but not even that got me going toward a Christmas countdown.
Nope, I spent November trying to shake grumpy, Grinch-like tendencies. The election was exhausting. The war in Iraq and debate over what to do is depressing. The annual budget deficit dances in Toledo, Lucas County and even Sylvania Township are mind-numbing.
Then there are the retailers, trying to suck all the fun right out of the holiday season.
There’s even a Web site devoted to Cyber Monday, set up as a gateway to all of the online deals available to people who borrow the boss’ time to surf the Internet that day.
Most are pushing Playstation 3, iPods, and the like, nothing more than high-tech, big-ticket babysitters that further separate families and put kids deeper into the couch cushions playing mind-zapping video games or disappearing from life under a set of headphones.
I was so slow this year, my kids dragged the decorations out of the basement and put them in the front yard. They brought up the Christmas tree and convinced my wife to set it up.
Then my son offered to “help” in his own special way outside. In the end, we got more decorating done than I figured we would. Never underestimate the Christmas spirit of an 8-year old.
That night, my daughter turned on Christmas tunes and we decorated the tree, another family tradition. My son’s version of “Holly Jolly Christmas” at the top of his lungs finally flipped a switch inside me. Once I realized the fun of family time, I was renewed and re-energized with a healthy dose of holiday spirit.
The whole thing may sound cheesy, but my kids kicked the gloomy Gus right out of me.
I remembered all the fun times I had as a kid during Christmas. All of a sudden a hectic, DVD world slowed down to the crackle and click of a 35mm film age, a much simpler time, one we’re going back to this season.
I wouldn’t trade my Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and Legos for all the gizmos, gadgets and games that will end up broken or abandoned a week after the holidays. The gifts we give this year will be powered by imagination, not batteries.
I don’t care how many decorations end up in the yard or stay in the basement. It won’t matter if I spend less on presents. I’m going to invest in relaxing with relatives and making memories, not getting sucked into the stress of who’s getting what and whether it’s enough.
While we celebrate the birth of Christ, we will also celebrate family this holiday season. I hope you will do the same.
Kevin Milliken is the host of “Eye on Toledo” on WSPD 1370 AM.