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Tue, Dec 12, 2017 03:52 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-12-12 communities
Smile Awhile
Christmas is coming
Sara Hopson
With apologizes to no one except those who may be offended, Christmas is my least favorite time of the year.

This isn't the first time I've expressed this opinion. For years, I have expounded upon the expectations that go along with this holiday, and I freely admit that I dislike the commercialism that it involves.

Maybe it's because of my childhood experiences surrounding Christmas that keeps me from enjoying the season. One of the first memories of Christmas was the one where I got a spanking (the only one) from my father. As I remember, the living room was filled to capacity with toys from Santa. In fact, as I recall, there wasn't a vacant spot on the floor you could step that wasn't cluttered with toys of all shapes and sizes. At that time, there was only my older sister, Melinda, and me. Being the only two grandchildren, we were spoiled rotten by our Grandmother as she indulged us with every present we asked for. At some point in the day, Melinda and I started to argue over an accordion. We had both received the same accordion, but we decided that she had mine and I had hers. The argument escalated to the point that I held my accordion over my head and threw it to the floor. All I remember after that is that daddy grabbed my arm and took one swipe at my behind. I can still remember the shame that followed. First of all, I couldn't believe that daddy would ever get mad at me, let alone whip me. And I was also ashamed of my actions. This is the one time Melinda didn't receive the punishment because most of the time she, not I, deserved it.

And, since Melinda was the oldest, she knew about Santa's "secret" before I did. (Once daddy dressed up like Santa and asked Melinda to sit on his knee. All Melinda said was, "Them's my daddy's shoes.")

One Christmas Eve as we lay in bed waiting for Santa to arrive, Melinda started talking about hearing Santa's sleigh and seeing him coming to our house.

"I can hear him!" she exclaimed as I clung to her pajamas. "He'll be here in a few minutes. I can almost see the shadow of his sleigh outside the window!"

While Melinda was speaking, I was getting more and more excited about Santa bringing toys to our house.

"He's here!" she shouted at the top of her lungs. "He's here! Oh, wait! No, it can't be! It can't be! It is! He's going to crash outside our window! He's crashed! He's dead!"

I can still remember running in to my parents' bedroom crying so hard I couldn't catch my breath. Is it any wonder I don't like Christmas?

By the next year, I'm sure Melinda had told me who Santa Claus really was, and when you cease to believe, the magic is gone.

Ironically, for the past three years we have been celebrating Christmas at Melinda's house, and she goes out of her way to make every minute special for all of us. (Guilt must do that to a person.) And although there are fewer people to celebrate with us, and the gifts are less abundant, the memories become all the more precious.

Merry Christmas! (And I really mean it!)

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