GENDUSA COLUMN: Celebrating my grand July tradition

Published 9:00 am Thursday, July 8, 2021

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It is July! The month we light up the sky with fireworks, hold family reunions, watch the kids squeal at the pool, or catch an ocean wave. I am not sure this summer is entirely typical,  but somehow it all feels better. This July, perhaps, we relish those simple summer rituals more because we are hopefully heading to something akin to “normal.” 

One of my favorite July traditions, however, is not related to summer. When the temperature rises to scorching heat each year, this old gal heads to Hobby Lobby to watch the staff begin displaying Christmas decorations. As I view the fun ornaments, I start to cool off and realize I am just five months away from my holiday craziness. Plus, in July, The Hallmark Channel celebrates “Christmas in July!” So, I must not be the only one who has a holiday addiction.

When my son returned to his home in Colorado after the holidays in 2019, I never dreamed I would not see him again until this summer. But, this winter, I could be over the top loony by December because Christmas 2020 was not one for the record book of happiness. So, I pray our home will be filled with the same ole’ family shenanigans and hysterics this year without any fear of a pandemic.

The little ones can throw their Cheerios in the air, wipe their noses on the Christmas napkins, or break a plate or two. I don’t care. The adults can overeat, be boisterous, and argue over the politics they can’t fix, but do I care? No. I will instead savor the fact that we are simply together.

My husband shakes his head every fall and gives me an insane Christmas budget and rules. I try my best to reign in my over-the-top, too much holiday cheer, but he might as well forget it this year. So, I plan to bake even more cookies, buy a few new ornaments, and keep those Hallmark Christmas movies on 24/7. 

If we are all still here by December 2021, we should be over the top with utter joy. If the stores are crowded, yippee! If there are empty hospital beds, double yippee! When the children step off the school bus for the holiday break, a triple yippee!

It seems Christmas has been gone far too long. We have endured tragedies, pain, and daily fear.

In America, more people died of COVID last December than any other month since the pandemic began.

And for many, the loss was nothing short of shattering. There was little to celebrate for most, and many asked for nothing but God’s comfort and strength.

I believe what will make this Christmas soar with celebration would be recalling the sadness of last year. We then will become more thankful, dispense empathy and extend a helping hand to those who need us. By doing so, we will honor Christ. We should be so grateful for living; we probably need to put out the Nativity now. 

We also should become so full of compassion that we fill God’s heart with joy. If we lend aid and give to others, then we will understand the spirit of Christmas.

So why am I writing about this in July? Well, you need time to prepare. First, you must get to Hobby Lobby or your favorite craft store. Send soldiers presents you make or take little treasures to a senior care facility. Buy school supplies for children or find a child who needs a smile and play a jolly Santa. Give food, give time, give your talents away. That is what Christmas is and what it was intended to be. 

This is the year to let kindness shine like the star on top of the tree. This is the time to teach our children the true meaning of giving.  Let Christmas 2021 be filled with less grief and more understanding to show the world that goodwill can reign over hatred if we work together.  Rudeness, uncivil behavior, and selfishness should be tossed into the trash with those broken Christmas lights and Cousin Eddie’s ugly sweater. 

May we all be willing to give this Christmas back to Christ. 

Umm, what kind of birthday cake should I bake for Baby Jesus this year?  Should I build another dollhouse for a child or paint my ‘not so perfect’ art?  Should I sew aprons, should I collect can goods or toys or both? What should I do?  Maybe I will come up with a new idea.   I think it is time to travel to the Hobby Lobby, where Christmas begins now.  I hope to see you there because you, my friends, need to prepare.