by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 12/1996
A note from Bob, 1/2014: This is one of my very first columns for the Reporter and nowhere near anything I consider “good writing” it’s a bit too all over the place and has too many topics, but I include it here because it is one of the earliest efforts and shows my genuine gratitude for the privilege to be able to write for the Foxboro Reporter — something I still cherish to this day. Also note, the Foxboro Jaycees no loner sell Christmas trees, and Foxboro First Night retired after five excellent years.
Some random thoughts and observations about the Christmas season before I get serious.
Have you ever noticed that each Christmas brings at least one Christmas card from someone you have not heard from in over two years? Invariably, this card will contain one of those scary family update letters. We received one a few years back from a family we hadn’t seen in nine happy years. The update letter included an excruciating description of the father’s stay at detox, and the family’s ordeal with his nervous breakdown and subsequent stay at a rest home.
A simple “Happy Holidays, everyone is fine,” would have sufficed, guys.
As far as holiday shopping goes, I’m not saying that I dislike Christmas shopping, but I try to avoid the peak shopping times (October 22-December 26). My compliments to those brave “Day after Thanksgiving, 6AM” folks who jam themselves like sardines into the local malls, circling like lost planes at Logan for hours until a parking space becomes available, all the while telling us how exciting it is to go shopping in the crazed hoards of people with all the pushing, shoving, name calling, random fist-fights, hour-long lines, and… shall we say… less than “chipper” sales clerks.
Why do we all know at least one person who spends the month of December trying to construct the perfect Christmas tree? The tinsel on the tree must be hung strand by strand and be a certain distance from the next strand, the bulbs must blink at a specified rate, the ornaments must be placed in exactly the right spot, and the finished product must look exactly like the one on the cover of the Good Housekeeping Christmas issue or it’s nervous breakdowns for all.
I have a question about “It’s a Wonderful Life,” that perennial Christmas classic. George Bailey is about to jump off the bridge and kill himself. Clarence, his guardian angel, appears and jumps instead. George sees Clarence in the water, casts his safety to the wind and jumps off the bridge to save Clarence… Huh? Shouldn’t the fall have killed George anyway?
This just in: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer has filed a discrimination suit against Santa Claus (Kringle Toys, Inc.) and the other reindeer. Rudolph’s attorney argues that his client suffers from an “over preponderance of nasal illumination” and was subject to peer pressure, ridicule and banishment from his fellow reindeer, who wouldn’t let his client participate in any reindeer games.
Why do we dream of a White Christmas? Considering all the people who travel that day, do we really want to send them through a raging blizzard on the way to grandma’s house? Sure hope you put the snow tires on the station wagon! Good thing Bing Crosby’s song didn’t mention route 128, five-car-pileups and impassable road conditions!
Well, enough silliness. This is a wonderful time of the year, and to help de-stress the season I remind myself that, “If the stress involved with doing any holiday activity outweighs the joy or good produced by that activity, don’t do it.” It’s really that simple. Do what you can, enjoy the holiday season, and if things don’t work out perfectly, it’s no big deal. Sure, some activities are a lot of work (and can even be a little stressful) but the end result is well worth it (helping others, getting that one special present a child really wants, making a difference for someone). But if the tree leans a little too much one way (I gave up on mine), if the Christmas lights just aren’t right (why is that set blinking??!!), if you couldn’t coordinate the family dinner for 90 people, it is not the end of the world. The people we love, our health and well-being, our friends, our willingness to help those less fortunate… These things and many more blessings matter. That we can’t find the right shade of green food coloring for the holiday cake doesn’t matter.
There are many holiday season events big and small right here in town and in adjacent communities. LaSallette shrine in Attleboro is free and offers a tasteful and beautiful Christmas display. The Foxboro Jaycees sell Christmas trees, and buying from them not only benefits Foxboro and a great organization, but you don’t have too go far, and there is a large selection of trees. We have a beautiful nativity display on the common, also thanks to the Jaycees. Make it a point to stop by the common some time during the season to look at it, and try to drive around Foxboro and look at the Christmas displays … many houses are already decorated and are showcases.
There are local plays, holiday events, and more than enough opportunities to lend a hand to the needy.
We have one of the best local “first nights” around, and if you’ve never been to Foxboro First Night, mark your calendar and go this year. For a very reasonable price, you get to see and do a lot, and it’s all within walking distance of the Common.
This is a season for taking a moment to look back and be thankful for your blessings, so on a personal note, I want to say a special thank-you to everyone who reads this column. It’s been about six month since I started doing this, and your response has been very positive to this new kid on the block. Many people have told me that they like what they read here, and that sometimes I make them think about something a little differently. It’s humbling to think of how many people these words reach. It also feels great. Feedback – whether positive or negative … is always important and appreciated. I’m grateful for the opportunity to put my thoughts and ideas into print, and to you for reading them.
Have a safe and happy holiday season.