Thoughts on religion, politics, life and death. And other banned topics.
This post is a speech I am giving for the humorous speech contest tomorrow night at Toastmasters. I originally gave this speech two years ago at Lawson Thrill Speakers, my local Toastmasters club. I also gave it at my church as part of our “Home for Christmas” theme. I hope you enjoy it. Visit my blog to read more or post a comment.
Oh, hey. Just got back with a tree from Dairy Queen. Well, not really from Dairy Queen, you know. Every year they sell trees from the DQ parking lot because no one wants to buy ice cream in December. Can you believe it? Seventy-three dollars for a Christmas tree. Every year they get more expensive.
You know, the older I get, the less I like Christmas. Oh, I still like the story okay: the baby and manger, the shepherds and angels and wise men. But everything else just leaves me feeling tired and wishing it were over. The day after Thanksgiving I’m already frazzled. There’s never enough time and never enough money.
My wife, she likes to go all out for Christmas. Big tree, lots of lights, tinsel and wreaths and holly and garland everywhere. And every year she wants to do more: more lights. Bigger wreaths. Goofy yard ornaments. And all of it costs more. And more presents.
Every year we end up with Christmas debt, and about the time I get last year’s credit cards paid off, it’s the weekend after Thanksgiving and time to start the whole thing over again.
One year I put my foot down. “No tree until Christmas Eve,” I said. “That’s the way they used to do it. We’ll have a big tree-decorating party and string popcorn and make paper chains and do all that family stuff.” The truth was, I didn’t have money for a tree. But by Christmas Eve I had managed to scrape together twenty dollars, and I figured I could talk the guy down since he wouldn’t be able to sell it the next day anyway. So I headed on over to the tree lot. But there was nobody there. There were about a dozen trees but nobody selling them. I went next door to the gas station.
“Where’s the guy who sells the trees?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Well, how am I supposed to get a tree? It’s Christmas Eve!”
“Just take one.”
Yeah. That was the year I stole our Christmas tree. It seems funny now, but at the time it was embarrassing. Me in the dark at the tree lot tying a stolen tree to the top of my car and hoping the cops don’t come by. Still, I saved twenty bucks.
And then there’s the programs. It turns out there’s a different program for each of your children. The toddler program rehearses on Sunday morning during church. The grade school program meets on Saturday mornings. My teens meet on Thursday to rehearse a deeply meaningful piece about loneliness and depression during Christmas—set to music that sounds like someone kicked a drum set down the stairs. And me? I’m in the grown-up Christmas play. I paly the Grinch. Again. My wife says it’s typecasting. We meet on Wednesday nights.
Then two weeks before Christmas it all gets kicked into high gear, and everyone has three rehearsals in the same week. And my wife and I put a thousand miles on the car and with gas prices the way they are! And we still have to buy presents! And Lucy needs a winter coat, and Josh needs a new pair of boots because the ones we bought him last year that he wore like three times don’t fit him any more. And two of my credit cards are already maxed out, and my wife just informed me that her parents are going to be here for Christmas. Joy to the world. Yeah. I’ll be glad when the whole thing is over.
Years ago my wife started a family tradition. She put out the manger with Mary and Joseph and the shepherds and wise man, but she left out the baby Jesus. Then on Christmas morning when the kids came rushing into our bedroom wanting to open presents, she got up and took them to the manger. “Look!” she said. “The baby Jesus is here!” Now it’s the first thing the kids look for on Christmas.
On Christmas morning I’m the one who passes out the presents, and I see their eyes light up. I see them smile and hug one another and sometimes even hug me. But what I like best is waking up to the sound of running footsteps and hushed, excited voices: “Look! The baby Jesus is here!” And I’m glad we did everything we did and took all the trouble we took and even spent all the money we spent. And I would do it all again. Which is just as well. Because next year is right around the corner.
If there’s one Christmas song that gives me the willies, it’s Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Just give a listen to the lyrics, and you’ll soon wonder why more children aren’t terrified by the big guy in the red suit. Consider the veiled threat behind these lines:
You'd better watch out You'd better not cry You'd better not pout I'm telling you why Santa Claus is coming to town.
It really gets creepy, though, when it describes the results of Santa’s spy network:
He sees you when you're sleeping He knows when you're awake He knows if you've been bad or good So be good for goodness sake
The old, fat guy has taken a page from 1984 and uses fear to keep all the little kiddies in line. And don’t forget about his naughty and nice lists. Number one on the naughty list? Santa himself.