Merry Christmas, Yuns . . .

Well. It is here - once again - that day that so many have been talking, typing, Tweeting, baking, saving, shopping, and Facebooking about since August. You've spent your money. You've made your plans. You've burned or built your bridges. You've loosened your sans-a-belt pants. You're awake. Hell - if you're like most Americans it is alllllll over by now. Regardless, from a former Christian to my largely-Christian Nation MERRY CHRISTMAS!

You will probably expect me to be cynical here. Talk about how silly you all are for your gifts and your traditions and your stockings hung with care and you'll probably expect me to talk about how annoying all of you are. Nope. Not going to happen. Fact is - I love the promise of today.

I don't care what you call the customs, trappings, habits, behaviors, or quirks of today. The stuff that makes you warm and gushy or that makes you livid at your core - they all boil back to one thing . . . tradition. Somewhere in your family's lexicon someone decided that Christmas Eve dinner would be all appetizers. That you would each open one gift before bed. Sleep was minimal. You would do Santa Stockings, Santa gifts, big breakfast, family gifts. That you would take turns and go round-and-round, one gift at a time until every gift was opened. That you would have no cell phones. But if the home phone rang, you would answer it "Merry Christmas" and everyone would talk as long as they wanted. Somewhere, somehow - that happened. Or it did at The Amore home. I don't know what, if any, of the above traditions live on in my parent's home or in the homes of my brothers. None of them followed to the Amore home that I built with Joy and Ava. We had our own things. They were special in their own right. Every house and home - even those people who are "alone" (Grrrrrrrr!) have TRADITIONS. And they all, for all of our bitching about the secular commercialization of Christmas, boil back to the original Christmas miracle - the Gift.

I'm no biblical scholar (take a minute, let it soak in) but here's what I think Christmas was once about. There was sin. We were all going to hell. We had it on us from the errors of Adam and Eve. But God (this is Christian lore here, we'll talk Judeo or Islamic theory some other time) said "I'll give you f*ckers one shot. Here's my son." and that was the whole thing. I don't know that Jesus hanging on the cross for our sins was the point of His Only Son. I think it was the birth. Some kid freezing his duckus off in the Middle East (hey, it could happen) while his earthly parents did their best to surround him with love, warmth, family, and charity. It was the HOPE and the PROMISE that we could be, even in rags/swaddling clothes/whatever, warm, loved, enveloped, cherished, and excited about what was to come. We do NOT need much. We just need a little time, a little space, a little promise of a better tomorrow, and a dude to crucify (I kid, I kid - but seriously), and maybe a few family and friends and piles of gifts around us to keep us in touch. To keep us renewing that promise. To keep us hopeful and warm and bright.

This year has been crazy. A record number of people, for me, have lost children, husbands, fathers, wives, families, savings, homes, jobs, marriages. It has happened in blessed ways and horrible happenings. I often wonder if we go through these stages (like when moderately famous people die in threes (I always get nervous for Betty White)) in our life for a reason. If the sufferings of those around us (even good people suffer - just ask Job) is somehow intended not just to make them stronger but also for US, as observers, to feel more appreciative for what we have. And that is why today is here, in my never humble opinion. To bring us back to the table. To bring us to the ones we love (even if only in voice, Tweet, status, or "like") and to remind us that it is going to begin again, go through another cycle, become part of lore and tradition. Be something eventually celebrated if only the honor and memory of those no longer with us.

Now - stop bitching about your family and Netflix being down, get off the friggin' computer. Go have another slice of pie and hug the shit out of your Grandma. And give her my number. Seriously.