Merry Christmas

Merry ChristmasMerry Christmas. I also hope you have a happy, prosperous new year. Well, prosperous may be a bit of a stretch given the state of the economy.

My greetings extend to those of you who celebrate a different holiday this time of the year. If you do, I hope you have a grand time celebrating whatever you celebrate.

If you’re one of those people who go around wishing everyone “happy holidays,” I’m happy to accept that as well. But I won’t be wishing you “happy holidays.” That’s because I have achieved one of my longtime goals: Becoming a curmudgeon.

My current curmudgery centers around political correctness in general and “happy holidays” in specific. It seems to me that those of us celebrating Christmas should say so, just as those of you celebrating something else should say that, too — and we ought to all be grateful we live where we can openly celebrate different things without fuzzing it all up with a generic label that doesn’t own up to any of them.

Curmudgery is a word I believe I’ve invented, but I’m happy to be a practitioner. When you’re young, complaining — even about things that deserve to be complained about — is often called whining. Later, it becomes a rant. It’s only when people begin to see you as old — we never see ourselves that way, of course — that you qualify as a curmudgeon. So, as one who has whined and ranted much of his life, I’m glad now to be able to curmudge. It’s still the same thing. But it has a better ring to it.

As long as I’m curmudging about Christmas, I’m inviting those few people who are inclined to buy me a Christmas present not to buy me any more “stuff.” I have too much stuff already. I like my friend Adrienne’s idea: If you want to give me a gift, give me a haircut (hint: Adrienne is a great barber) or a massage or something else that will give me pleasure and an American worker the gift of being able to earn a few bucks doing whatever it is they do. Two gifts in one.

But enough curmudging. The whole point of these annual letters is, I believe from the ones I’ve received, to provide a recap of the past year so you can catch everybody up without having to write everyone a personalized letter.

So, let’s get on with it. I’m lucky enough to have nine grandchildren in my life. Four of them are mine. Five of there are Mary’s. But I have the privilege of watching all of them grow up. All of them are bigger, smarter and cuter than they were at this time last year. I don’t know how they do that. It’s magic, I think. But I’m glad they do because I enjoy watching them do it.

I’m smaller (I lost 40 pounds), smarter and no cuter (which is to say not cute at all) than I was this time last year. Like the kids, I’m also a year older. They want to be older than they are. And I’m okay with getting older. Being old enough to qualify as a curmudgeon is an interesting time of life.

If you know the kids in my life well enough to care about the details of what happened to them during the past year, you probably already know the details. If you don’t know the details, you probably don’t care about them anyway. But if you’re curious, then let’s chat. That’s way more fun than a form letter.

I also remain in awe of my grandchildren’s parents — some of whom are my former children. I say “former children” not because I’ve disowned them or vice versa (as far as I know). I’m still their dad. But they’re not children any more. I’m happy to report they all seem to be doing a better job of making it through life than I was doing at their respective ages. I take some credit for that. But not much. They’re mostly doing it on their own.

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Much love to all. And don’t forget to laugh at your problems. Everyone else does.


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