New Castle News

December 23, 2013

Lisa Madras: Don’t let hostility hide the magic of Christmas

Lisa Madras
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — What type of person angers you the most?

It's almost Christmas — the day before Christmas Eve, in fact — and I suppose I should be thinking about gingerbread men and ribbons and peace on Earth.

But there's just something about this particular time of year that bothers me, and while it may not be politically correct or even polite to say so, I'm going to say it anyway.

Some of the people around me are what bother me. Now, I could make a list of the people who don't anger me so that the nice people reading this don't get offended, but that could take forever. There's a lot of great people out there, and you know who you are without me having to point it out.  But there's a lot of our cohorts who are in serious need of an attitude adjustment.  And they know exactly who they are, as well.

Christmas is hectic for all of us.  We're all struggling to keep it together the rest of the year, and when you add the pressures of preparing a holiday meal, buying and wrapping presents, and perhaps even making travel arrangements on top of all that, it's pretty easy to get stressed out and testy.  I've been known to angrily slug a batch of ruined cookie dough into the trash myself from time to time. 

But, really, people, is it that hard to hold it together? 

I don't honestly know how many times it has to be beaten into our skulls that materialism is NOT the meaning of Christmas.  And it doesn't matter one lick who you are or where you're from — there is just no excuse for the type of bad behavior that goes on in public places during the holiday season.

I'm not trying to say that there isn't a great deal of goodness going on, either.  It really warms my heart to see how charitable donations kick up, and random acts of kindness pop up all over the place.  Church services and Christmas parties and families spending time together — it's truly a magical time of year.

But the pushing and the shoving at the grocery store?  The impatient toe tapping and horn honking?  The irritability and outright hostility?  Come on, people, this isn't a gift to be given.  I'm not a pastor, so I'm not going to preach the meaning of Christmas to you.  You either get it or you don't.  But if the material things are so important to you that have to crush the spirits of those around you, then maybe Christmas just isn't your thing.

Everybody that you meet is fighting a battle of their own, whether it's the loss of a loved one, struggles to pay the bills, a sick child, or any number of burdens to bear, and the holidays make those struggles even harder.  Teachers, waitresses, cashiers, nurses — they're serving you, oftentimes overworked and underpaid, and when they say "Merry Christmas," they deserve more than your impatient huff and your cash thrown on the counter.

My guess is that the people acting like this are fighting their own battles as well, and for that I am sorry.

Some of us lead pretty charmed lives, so this isn't that much of an issue.  But a lot of us — and I mean a LOT of us — are feeling the effects of living in a society with a downward-spiraling economy.  We work long hours to make ends meet, which means we have little time left for our families, and perhaps even our health is failing, and we're tired, and frustrated, and  sometimes left feeling more than a little hopeless.

Our days, the normal ones, are drudgery repeated over and over again, with the only light at the end of the tunnel being the smattering of holidays where we get to do something different and special for a short time.  We need the magic.  We need it desperately.

We need with everything within us to believe in the ideal of Christmas, that scene in our minds where the snow falls softly and world is adorned in velvety red ribbons and the people around us are overflowing with love and kindness and compassion.

You can have your cutting-edge electronics and Top 10 List toys, we promise, even if you have to wait patiently in line behind 20 other people.  But please, oh please, if there's any way you can get those things and still allow the rest of us to have the magic, we would be ever so grateful.