ValueSpeak - A Weekly Column by Joseph Walker


I went out looking for Christmas the other day.

It was the day after Thanksgiving.  Black Friday.  The first official shopping day of the Christmas season, and there were all kinds of advertised specials.  Surely I would find Christmas there among the enticing holiday bargains and two-for-one, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

But on the way down to the store I heard a radio news report about a big store in California or someplace that had to be shut down because crazed shoppers were basically rioting in the aisles, clamoring for . . . well . . . everything.  So I chickened out.  I mean, I wanted to find Christmas and everything, but I wasn’t ready to risk my life in the process.

So I decided to take advantage of the unusually balmy late-November afternoon to hang the Christmas lights on the house.  Surely I would find Christmas on the roof, surrounded by the electronic glow of holiday technology.  And it went pretty well, too, until I turned the lights on and noticed that one light – one measly light! – was out.  I climbed back on the roof and tweaked the light to see if maybe it just wasn’t screwed in tight enough.  The light broke off, with half of it still embedded inside the socket.  I climbed back down, grabbed a pair of needle-nose pliers, climbed back up and tried to extract the broken part of the light – forgetting, of course, that the light string was still plugged in and turned on.

Needless to say, that shocking episode soured me on finding Christmas in the lights.

So I went inside and tried to find Christmas on TV.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds.  While there are tons of movies and programs on TV that are created around a holiday theme, there are comparatively few that are really ABOUT Christmas.  But that night I managed to find one: the original animated version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” featuring the vocal talents of Boris Karloff.  I was just . . . THIS . . . close to finding Christmas in Whoville when I accidently hit the channel changer and flipped over to another station in time to catch some beer commercial.  So I missed the part where the Grinch – he, himself – carved the roast beast.

And in the process, I missed Christmas too.

Then last night we went to see Anita’s parents.  Now, I have to admit – I wasn’t in the right mood.  Please don’t misunderstand: I adore Anita’s parents, and I look forward to our visits.  But it had been a long day at work and I was grumpy.  And our 18-year-old son, Jon, was sick, and I thought maybe one of us (namely me) should stay home with him.  But Anita was sure Jon would be OK while she and I went to help her parents put up their Christmas tree.

So I went – admittedly grudgingly.  As soon as we walked in the door, however, things started to change.  Anita’s parents were so warm and loving and thankful for the visit.  Her Dad had prepared a delicious dinner for us, and we sat and ate and enjoyed some conversation.  Then I helped bring the tree and decorations up from the basement, and with instructions from Anita’s Mom we quickly got the tree fluffed and lit and decorated.

I’m not going to lie to you – the tree looked great when we were through, and Anita’s folks were gracious and appreciative.  As we started for home it occurred to me that for the first time all day I felt really good.  I felt warm.  I felt happy.  And yes, I felt Christmas. It was there, enveloping me and making me feel . . . you know . . . Christmassy.

Not because I found Christmas.  But because, in that simple act of service, Christmas found me.

— © Joseph Walker

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Check out Joseph Walker’s Latest Books!

Look What Love Has Done:  Five-Minute Messages to Lift Your Spirit. 

How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen?  Home Remedies for an Ailing World.

Christmas on Mill Street A Holiday Novel!

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