Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays from David J. Bell

Book Nerd Holiday 

I’ve been sitting here trying to think of the best Christmas present I ever received. I can think of a lot of them that I’ve enjoyed over the years. Once, I received a Star Trek phaser, one that fired a beam of light out of the end and emitted a screeching sound—one that I loved and that probably drove my parents out of their minds. I remember the year we received an Atari 2600, a gift that allowed me to spend countless hours on the floor of our living room playing Space Invaders, Missile Command, and Indy 500. I also remember countless shirts, pants, toy cars, and books. The gifts I’ve received over the years through the generosity of my family, friends and loved ones could fill a small retail store. I’m lucky.

But the best holiday gift of all is something I don’t own. It’s something I can’t own. It’s a place:


I grew up in Ohio and spent the majority of my Christmases there, which meant that Christmas was a time of cold weather, rain, snow, and fog. And I understand completely why a lot of people believe that Christmas is a time of year that should feel frosty. We are saturated with images of snowy holiday scenes—sleighs, thick sweaters, roaring fires. It’s hardwired into our collective DNA: Christmas is a cold, snowy time.

But I don’t feel that way anymore.

My in-laws are snowbirds. They live up north in the summer and move down to Florida in the winter, and for the last eight years or so, my wife and I have come to visit them over the holidays. The weather is usually in the seventies, the ocean breezes are warm, and there isn’t remotely a hint of snow or ice or fog. If the daytime high only reaches the sixties, it is considered a “cold” day. We usually go to the beach on Christmas Day.

And it feels like Christmas to me now. People put up Christmas lights—maybe even more than they do up north. The mall overflows with shoppers. Santa can be found in his full costume, despite the heat.

I still remember the day I guessed that Santa Claus wasn’t real. My dad told me, “What matters is the spirit of Christmas rather than Santa Claus himself.” And he was right—as he was about so many things. The holidays are what we make of them, and we are all free to create the holiday spirit wherever we are and wherever we find it. Warm weather or cold, it is ours to make.


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