Christmas does not play a large part in my life. The reason goes all the way back to my childhood. We were poor when growing up, so every Christmas Eve, we drove out to Novelty, Ohio to visit my Uncle Emil (my father’s identical twin brother) and his family. From my uncle, I usually got a twenty dollar bill, which I appreciated. From everyone else, I got … yechhhh! … clothes—mostly middle-aged people’s notions of the then current fashion. Sensible things. We ate the usual chicken dinner prepared by my Aunt Annabelle (I hate chicken!) and then repaired to the living room for the gift exchange. By this time, the dander from my cousins’ pets was starting to get in my lung and eyes, and I was trying to keep myself together without a family argument on from what side of the family my many allergies came.
Aside from the money, the only presents I liked came from my Mom’s friend Edith Antal. She had actually asked me what I wanted. When I told her I preferred comic books, her eyes lit up. All well and good, no expensive clothes for this boy! So every Christmas, I got fifty cents worth of comics, which I treasured until my mother threw them out.
To be completely honest with myself, I do not really care for Christmas. Come to think of it, I don’t care for holidays. Other than getting some time off from work, there are no real attractions for me. I try to do a few Christmassy things with Martine, but it is from no real love of the season.
The only exception is that I try to get nice things for my brother’s children and the children of my best friend. Since I cannot have children myself, I use Christmas to show my appreciation for the role they play in my life.
Also, with all sincerity, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas or whatever religious equivalent is appropriate. Life is hard, and it is good for the soul to kick back and celebrate once in a while.