It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, all around the town.
Colored Christmas lights adorn houses throughout the area. My neighbors across the street have their annual life-size “Santa Grinch” gracing their front yard.
The stores and malls are filled with the hustle and bustle of shoppers rushing home with their presents. And children try to stay on their best behavior as Santa is checking his annual “naughty and nice” list.
But is everything really as innocent and wholesome as those Currier and Ives lithographs from long ago?
Christmas commercials (like those obnoxious Lexus ads) pollute the airwaves, and commercialism runs even more rampant than in years past.
People take their life into their hands in the Walmart parking lot as drivers race to their valued parking spaces.
It was even reported that on Black Friday, a woman in California used pepper spray on unsuspecting fellow shoppers so that she could get a deal on her precious Xbox. The 30-something woman also had her children with her, giving them a “teachable moment,” I’m sure.
In years past, it seemed that people appealed to their better selves during the Christmas season.
Now, it appears that that only thing folks are concerned with is not using the expression “Merry Christmas,” for fear of offending the politically correct police.
One of my favorite passages from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is where Scrooge’s nephew Fred says that Christmas is the one time of year where human beings act like they “… really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
Regardless of your religious beliefs, it appears as if our society has become more obsessed with the receiving of gifts on Christmas, as opposed to the real meaning, religious or secular, of the day itself.
I’m not saying it is bad to receive gifts, or to give them.
But the gift-giving aspect obscures the real meaning of Christmas.
Christmas is a time of tradition, of attending church services, getting together with families and friends over dinner, and sharing memories of times past and those who are no longer with us.
I think it is the best and worst of times that really bring home the true meaning of Christmas.
My worst Christmas was 2008, when I spent the holidays in the hospital recovering from a stroke.
No one, healthy or sick, wants to spend any time in a hospital, much less during Christmas.
Fortunately, family and friends stop by to visit, although even they must return home and leave you there alone with your thoughts.
Even though it was a depressing Christmas, it gave me a new perspective – an appreciation that even then things could be worse, as evidenced by some of my fellow patients. Additionally, I was grateful to even be alive.
My best Christmas was 1981.
It was my first chance to spend Christmas back home in Johnstown with my family, after having moved to Atlanta two years earlier.
My folks and Uncle Don met me at Greater Pitt, and even had a life-size Santa with a welcome home sign attached to Unck’s restored ’57 Chevy.
Everyone was happy to see me, even our family pooch, Holly, who practically knocked me over when I arrived back home.
That Christmas seemed much brighter, much happier, than other Christmases Past.
Maybe it was because I had finally realized what was truly important about Christmas.
Bill Eggert is a Johnstown native. You can read his blog at http://thebillvilleblog.word-press.com.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, all around the town.
- Bill Eggert
BILL EGGERT | Ten Commandments of Facebook
Social media have become all the rage these days. Facebook leads the charge in this area. Inadvertently, Facebook has provided sociologists with a template on how society is relating to each other. Or not.
BILL EGGERT | Challenges confront Catholic Church locally and abroad
My mom has advised me on numerous occasions to avoid the topics of politics and religion in my column. Being an obedient son, I occasionally ignore her advice while tending to temper my remarks on said subjects.
BILL EGGERT | Photographs and memories: Capturing the past
When I visited my mom this past Christmas I discovered she had a couple of boxes out from the attic of old black and white photos of various family members, many now unfortunately gone. All we have left are the memories and photographs of those who touched our lives and those who passed before we were born. How fortunate we all are to have this amazing invention of photography (and now digital photography) to preserve people and memories, like archeological bugs in amber.
BILL EGGERT | Anniversary reflections: Looking back over past 6 years
January marks the sixth anniversary of my column in The Tribune-Democrat. As I embark on the seventh year of my column, I reflect back on the previous six years.
BILL EGGERT | Oscar the Grouch: Remembering Jack Klugman
We have lost another television icon recently. A versatile and highly respected character actor of stage, screen and television, Jack Klugman’s career spanned approximately 60 years. His performances garnered three Emmy Awards and several additional nominations. Klugman’s Broadway credits include “Golden Boy,” Gypsy” and “The Odd Couple.” His film credits include memorable performances in “12 Angry Men” (1957), “Days of Wine and Roses” (1962) and “Goodbye Columbus” (1969).
BILL EGGERT | Remembering the Great One: Roberto Clemente
New Year’s Eve 1972: A date that began with much joy and anticipation in western Pennsylvania, but ended with much sadness.
BILL EGGERT | The Feast of the Immaculate Reception
Imagine, if you will, a 40-year-old professional football franchise, a laughingstock organization celebrated for its ineptitude, owned by a colorful yet saintly cigar-smoking Irishman. Originally called the Pirates and later the Steelers, the team was dubbed by the media and long-frustrated fans as “Rooney U,” whose proficiency was of college level, reflecting the team’s lack of success in the NFL.
But in their 40th year, on a cold December afternoon, in a matter of 22 seconds, the city and the team’s fortunes, mindset and image went from loser to winner in that Cinderella moment - forever known as the “Feast of the Immaculate Reception.”
BILL EGGERT | 50 years later, movie fans still bonding with 007
While next year marks the 60th anniversary of his literary debut by author Ian Fleming, this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of secret agent extraordinaire James Bond in motion pictures, with the latest Bond film “Skyfall” opening in theaters.
BILL EGGERT | Best friends forever
I find it remarkable that so many folks, especially young people, have literally hundreds of friends on their Facebook page. They have not been alive long enough to have that many friends, much less acquaintances.
BILL EGGERT | Space program gave us stars with right stuff
Those of a certain age remember when our space program was in its infancy, in a tight race with the Soviet Union.
- More Bill Eggert Headlines
- BILL EGGERT | Ten Commandments of Facebook