Joy to the Messiness of Christmas

christmas morning!

christmas morning! (Photo credit: Nikki McLeod)

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.
Don’t clean it up too quickly.” ~ Andy Rooney

 Christmas is meant to be messy—it is a combination of all those things that make it slightly chaotic, happily disordered, and a bit muddled. There are those who may succeed in putting order in the holiday season—with napkins folded in reindeer shapes, festive name plates creatively crowning every plate, and a gourmet dinner cooked flawlessly for shining happy faces around the dining room table. Impeccable manners are displayed and the conversation is articulate, with no hint of religion, politics, or money.

          Beautifully wrapped gifts are opened carefully, the paper whisked away before it hits the floor, and expressions of gratitude greet every well-chosen present. Tasteful Christmas sweaters are worn with flare, and well-mannered children sit quietly awaiting their turn to open the bounty provided by Santa.

          …………………..Okay, now for a little reality. What I have described above may have happened on the Christmas shows carefully orchestrated in days of yore, (think Bing Crosby Christmas specials) and Martha Stewart may still bring some order to the holidays (though we really don’t know—Christmas Day may be one of havoc, turmoil and mayhem at her house too) but as for me and mine—we start out carefully unwrapping our gifts, but it soon becomes a frenzy of paper torn off with abandon, and bows tossed aside to reveal the prize of the day. Later we are left scrambling to find instructions and batteries among the tissue paper and flotsam and jetsam of Christmas unwrapped.

          I strive to produce a gourmet meal (having watched one too many shows on the Food Network), but we are all satisfied with what is eventually the outcome of my labours—some years it is overcooked prime rib, others a butchered turkey (this year I am going to use an electric knife bestowed on me by a friend—so hopefully it will not look like I wrestled with the meat). Generally the meal tastes pretty good and it is always saved by dessert. Those who gather around my table are generally well-mannered, but voices do get raised in passion, and perhaps a wine glass gets knocked over (usually by me as I am a klutz). But I contend that it is the “mess” of Christmas that makes it festive; it is the confusion and jumble and tangle of the whole event that is what makes memories.

          Christmas is not meant to be perfect—after all it is celebrated by people, and who do you know that is perfect? I love the noise of happy kids—their exuberance and joy at a holiday they can barely believe is happening makes one rethink what is important. I always have the sugarplum of a perfect Christmas dancing in my head, stress out to make sure that everything is impeccable–then I come to the realization that the Christmas we celebrate this year will be just right—despite arguments, unwanted presents, and overcooked meat. Life has its peccadilloes and so does Christmas.


June and Ward Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley and...

June and Ward Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thinking that Christmas will not suffer from some turmoil is unrealistic—remember even June and Ward Cleaver had to put up with Beaver’s antics and Eddie’s caustic charm. Christmas does not solve the world’s problems per se, but for a few moments it can put them on hold and we can bask in the glow of our Christmas trees, the warmth of our families, and enjoy all the special foods and drinks and presents that help make the season merry.

          My fervent wish for all of you is that you can take some time out this Christmas to enjoy what the season has to offer. I leave you with these wise words from W.J. Tucker (my addition is in brackets):

          “For centuries men (and women) have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home.” ~ from Pulpit Preaching

          Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ~ may you find joy in this holiday season!

A Star

Andy Rooney

Andy Rooney (Photo credit: Mike Licht,

I wrote this piece in July 2011. I find myself missing Andy Rooney every Sunday, so thought I would resurrect this tribute written right after he went to what many call “a better place”.

“A writer should be sitting over in the corner watching the dance and not be out there dancing.”~ Andy Rooney

It was a little bit freaky. I watched Andy Rooney’s last night on air about a month ago, and promptly went to my computer and wrote two things on a post-it note that stays in a little corner of the computer until you erase it. The first was “Writers never retire”; the second: “It is the writer’s job to tell the truth”. For some reason on Friday, I erased my post-it note as my computer was acting up. As my technical savvy is somewhat limited, I get rid of anything extraneous that may be causing the trouble.  I thought that having the post it note up might be a way gremlins were eating computer information.

I know that my methods of bringing my computer back into line make no sense whatsoever, but if you need your email up and running in order to send in words of wisdom such as these to your place of employment, you try anything. Now, I know I am not responsible for Andy Rooney’s death on Friday night—I know this, but I feel really bad that I erased his words.

Andy Rooney to me was a saviour. Not in the religious sense, but he saved the sometimes dour and stuffy and very serious journalistic endeavours of the program 60 Minutes from being a total downer. At least at the end of the program, he provided an almost always humorous breath of fresh air. I loved his quirky take on the world. And Andy never considered himself a television “star”—he was first, last, and in the middle, a writer.

He fulfilled the philosophy that Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner once put forth that there is “always something.” From the clumsiness of vacuum cleaners, to the fact that designer jeans are merely a means of advertising on the posterior of Americans, he made lots of sense, albeit a little grumpily.  An article by Dennis McLellan of the Los Angeles Times cemented my admiration of the man. Of baseball, he said “My own time is passing fast enough without some national game to help it along.” I like playing baseball, (and when my kids played I liked watching them) but I went to a pro game in Detroit once, and I swear it went 105 inning. Seriously, as if nine were not enough!

The word curmudgeon has been pulled out from under the rug to describe this lovely, warm, if slightly irascible human being.  Mike Wallace said that he had not met a man he admired more and praised him by saying, “he’s got the guts to say what is on his mind”—a trait I admire greatly—even though it got him into trouble on occasion.

McLellan described Andy this way— “Wry. Curmudgeonly. Whimsical. An articulate Everyman. Unruffled yet quizzical. A crank. A complainer. The man of a thousand questions.”  He seems to not have been lazy and merely gone to a thesaurus for words to describe Andy, as nowhere would you find the words curmudgeon and whimsical as synonyms.  He was a man of many flavours, whom USA Today’s columnist Bob Minzesheimer quoted as saying “I’ve done a lot of complaining, (but) I can’t complain about my life.”

According to Minzesheimer, colleague Morley Safer described him as thus: “Underneath that gruff exterior was a prickly interior, and deeper down, was a sweet and gentle man (with) a delicious hatred for prejudice and hypocrisy.” Andy described himself as “average in so many ways that it eliminates any chance I ever had of being considered a brooding introspective intellectual.”  Personally I have a bone to pick with his self-description and revere him as an intellectual, if not the brooding kind. I saw through the façade, he was a sweet and gentle man, who preferred to be simply known as a “writer” and not a celebrity.

I shall be reinstating my computer’s post-it note. I am sorry I erased it.

Published in: on March 29, 2012 at 3:22 pm  Comments (2)  
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