Christmas Wishes and Wants

Joey KennedyBut not before Thanksgiving, please.

By Joey Kennedy

Before Halloween, my wife, Veronica, and I visited a local department store and it had already put up its Christmas displays. Trees and tinsel and lights and, yes, Christmas music.

Before Halloween. Come on, folks. Why so early? I’m not so curious about Christmas that I need some sort of yuletide fix in mid-October. And it won’t make me do my Christmas shopping before mid-December. I procrastinate, yes.

I’m discussing Christmas wishes this month, and my No. 1 Christmas wish is that stores would please let Halloween and Thanksgiving get by us before giving us Christmas—in October.

My No. 2 Christmas wish is that radio stations (and stores) would delay Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” sounds like it could be a Halloween song, but it’s not. Grandma was hit by that reindeer on Christmas Eve. Do not play this song on All-Hallows Eve, please. It’s confusing.

Still, now that it’s December, Christmas is fair game for a column.

Here’s a Christmas wish: Let’s finally quit accepting that a U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama can also be a pedophile. That should be a no-brainer, right?

Yet, even some (a few, like 50-something) white evangelicals endorsed this particular Senate candidate. How do Christmas and pedophilia go together, because supposedly these evangelicals who endorsed this crazy-eyed Senate candidate are going to be discussing the Christmas story later this month. And they aren’t going to accuse Joseph (or God, heaven forbid) of being a pedophile, right? Even though Mary was awfully young and a virgin.

Another Christmas wish: Let’s next year, here in Alabama, shut down puppy mills and irresponsible backyard breeders. Legislation has been proposed before, and has gotten nowhere in Montgomery. The Legislature reconvenes early next year, and there will be bills to regulate such operations. They are cruel to animals, especially dogs, and should not be allowed to exist.

We’ve has a number of puppy mill rescues in our home (we have some now, as of this writing). They are pugs, the most adorable dogs on the planet. I wish I couldn’t imagine the horrendous conditions they must live in while being forced to breed. Sadly, I can imagine, and it’s not a Christmas story.

Like all sentient beings, dogs think, love, hurt, fear, plan, worry, and deserve to be treated with kindness and love. Coal, lots of it, for the stockings of puppy mill breeders. And for the pet stores that accept their offspring.

One Christmas, I had a telephone conversation with my mother, who was then dying of bone cancer. I was sentenced to the hospital with some weird heart issues. It all turned out OK for me, but I remember getting a phone call from my mom while I was laid up, missing an opportunity to visit with her one more time: What are you doing in the hospital, she asked me, in her momma voice. She said: “I’m the one who’s sick.”

I wish my mom were still here this Christmas. But so do many other people, and Christmas seems to be the time we most think about such stuff. The first Christmas I can remember, my parents bought me a whole army. Little green plastic army men I put into battle often. I’ve become much more of a pacifist since I was six years old, but man did I enjoy fighting that army. I used mass-destruction weapons like marbles. I’d roll them across the floor and kill dozens at a time.

Merry Christmas, right? In my defense, a six-year-old doesn’t have the mental capacity of an adult. Kind of like Kim Jong-un or Donald Trump, right? Please, give us a Christmas wish of peace and no nuclear war this year. Or next year. Or forever.

Christmas is the time of light. And lights. A Christmas wish from me every year is that people will put up thousands of lights on their houses, so Veronica and I can complete our Christmas Eve tradition of driving around, looking at those lights. Don’t come by my house, though. We don’t put up lights. Or, usually, even a Christmas tree. Our house is practically a dog sanctuary, and we’ve seen too many trees toppled. Oh, we’ll have a tiny tree, way up above where any dog can reach (we hope). But you won’t see any outside lights.

I consume other folks’ lights. I guess I’m a taker.

Though, I truly love giving, too. It is, you know, the season for giving. And the season for being able to receive.

I’ve always been an open book when somebody gives me a gift. If I’m given something that just seems wrong, it shows on my face. That happened one year when Veronica and I were at her family’s house for Christmas. From one of her sisters, I received a University of Alabama belt buckle and tie clip. I had just graduated from UAB, not UAT. Then, the other sister gave me a red, clip-on tie. Alabama red.

On our way home, Veronica said, in cliché fashion: “Remember, it’s the thought that counts.”

“I know,” I replied. “They think I graduated from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) and wear clip-on ties.” I was kind of depressed.

My biggest Christmas wish is for prayers, good wishes, and peace.

That’s pretty simple. It’s all I want.

And Christmas lights. Lots and lots of Christmas lights.

But please, not until after Thanksgiving.

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