Post-Christmas Musings

I’m writing this the evening after Christmas from the airport Holiday Inn in Bloomington, Illinois, on our way home from spending the holiday with Bridgette’s sister’s family. Like experiencing a remorseful post-coital spooning from St. Nick, I am gloomy and introspective on this day after the holiday. Sounds like a tasty recipe for musing. So let’s do it. (Muse, that is.)


The landscape of central Illinois and northern Indiana isn’t much to look at. As a matter of fact, it’s basically nonexistant. Sagging barns, empty billboards, truck stops every 25 miles, and there you have it. I will say, however, that vacant billboards are more welcome than the well-intentioned but grammatically confused ones that populate rural Minnesota’s highways.

Upon reaching the beautifully loping Kentucky countryside on our way to Elizabethtown, I found myself gazing admiringly out the window. Less pleasing, however, were the prominent billboards in neon yellow blazing “XXX ADULT BOOKS” (ironically, most of these were found in Hardin, a dry county). As a child, I remember seeing signs for “adult books” and imagining shelves loaded with fat novels about really complex, hard-to-understand topics.

If that actually described an adult bookstore, I would go there all the time.

In what was certainly the most unusual part of our Christmas, we ended up going to a church called Heritage International Church on Christmas Eve. Bridgette’s sister doesn’t really go to church all that often herself, and so when we expressed interest in going, she brought us all along to this place she had recently been invited to. We walked in, and realized that we were just about the only white folks there. Once the culture shock subsided, it ended up being a pretty cool experience. True to every stereotype, the music was pretty excellent, and not hard to enjoy. The pastor’s message (regarding seeking correction from God and avoiding a calloused heart) was genuinely stirring. The 20-minute session of faith healing and speaking in tongues? Ehhhh…

The best thing I got for Christmas this year was actually a small item from an ESL American History student of mine from Korea. She handed me a Starbucks gift card (always a great gift) with the following inscription: “Andrew Jackson’s hair may have been crazy, but Father Christmas’s beard is much more crazy!”

Now that I’m 30, I’m past the point where Christmas is amazing on its own terms. Maybe once Bridgette and I have kids things will feel different, but otherwise this season is best spent reflecting on fond memories of Christmases past. However, a few factors made this year’s celebration notable. Being with our two nephews on Christmas morning helps the celebration resemble an adrenalized meth binge. In addition, spending time on an army base (where my brother-in-law is stationed) gave us plenty of time to meet and talk to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. This was incredibly significant to me – no longer were those words attached to an abstract political debate discussed by my current affairs students or columnists armed with talking points. I was talking with these men about their own experiences, what they saw, what their families endured, and what they went through. It lent a lot of gravity and significance to this year’s Christmas, and those men and their families will remain in the forefront of my mind for some time to come.

We met a friendly cat during our stay. He was a black cat named Flapjack. His special features included a runny eye infection, extreme friendliness with strangers, and a meow that sounds like a Ringwraith with laryngitis. For various humanitarian reasons, Bridgette and I briefly considered adopting him until I imagined myself explaining to dinner guests, “These are our three cats. Mona will probably leave you alone to go spend time in a filthy corner of our basement, Ben Franklin will aggressively try to sit on your lap and give you a hernia by pinpointing all his weight on your lower abdomen, and this is Flapjack. You can count on him rubbing his diseased eye juices across your clothing in his vain attempts to snuggle. Okay, now let’s play Monopoly.”

I hope your Christmas was similarly odd and wonderful!

This entry was posted in Sincerity. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Post-Christmas Musings

  1. tim hopps says:

    As I neared the end of this post, I couldn’t help but think, “Kind of a dud… nothing really funny here.” Then appeared Flapjack! Now THAT’S more like it!!

  2. peter says:

    Check the category, Tom. This one was one of the very few filed under “sincerity”.

  3. tim hopps says:

    I saw that, but I guessed that you were being insincere when you labeled it “sincerity”. What is real?

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