Over on Andy's Blog, he linked to this post on Adam Mustoe's blog. To clarify, I have no idea who this Adam person is, other than the information available about him in his profile. But, he had some thoughts on the holiday, and since reading them... I guess on the 24th or so, I have been mulling them over.
Somewhere in the past... I don't know... thirty years or so--I'm 39 now, and I think Wade spilled the beans about you-know-who when I was younger than 9, so we'll go with about thirty years or so...
Where was I? Oh yeah. Anyway, somewhere in that time, Christmas has become--hokey as it sounds--more about the giving for me.
I don't know that Mom or anyone else did anything to create that in me. I've been trying to trace this back into my history somewhere, but nothing is standing out. It seems important to figure it out, because I think if you love your kids, you'll teach them to find the joy in giving so that Christmas still has a sort of... well, magic isn't the word I mean... but it's close. We'll go with "joy".
Of course, if your kids grow up to be dirt poor and can't afford to give anyone anything a particular Christmas, that Christmas is gonna kind a stink, but there's always next year, right?
There's just a sort of joy associated with thinking of your friends and loved ones, trying to figure out what they would like, and then setting it up just right. I know some people hate doing all that--especially the picking the perfect gift part--but, when I have the means, I love doing that.
The best gift I ever gave--at least that I can think of right now--is Doris Day's holiday CD. I gave it to my Secret Santee out at MCM&VCo. during the run of "A Christmas Bette" back in... whenever the heck that was.
Jon Copeland was a huge Doris Day fan, and had mentioned that, although she had recorded lots of holiday songs over the years, alas, she did not have a holiday album.
Amazon.com was young back then, and I don't remember how it came to pass--either I did a search for "Doris Day" and "Christmas" on a whim that maybe Jon was unaware of the CD's existence, or if I was just searching for ideas of what to get him next, but there it was: Doris Day: Personal Christmas Collection.
I didn't have a debit card. I had to mail a check to amazon.com and then hope against hope that it got here before Christmas.
It arrived, but I wanted so badly to see his face when he got it. This is very hard to pull off in the course of a MCM&VCo. show, because you don't want anyone to see you place the gift, and you have to plan it so that they're next going to be in that spot at the same time you are. Also, if you're staring, it's kinda obvious.
I enlisted the help of Marcie Ramirez. I asked her to announce in the dressing room, while Jon was off somewhere else, that everyone watch Jon as he arrives behind the curtain for the water glass number, because his Secret Santa was going to put a gift on his water glass table, and wanted to watch his reaction.
So, as we carried the tables onstage, I surreptitiously placed the unwrapped CD on his table. We all watched as Jon arrived, and I would not trade watching his expression for most anything in the world.
That--to me, anyway--is how to keep some Joy in Christmas.
Even this year, when things were... um... lean... I still have the memory of that performance and Jon's sheer joy at seeing that, not only did Doris Day have a holiday collection, but he was now the proud owner of it!
So, yes, hokey, but for me the joy comes from the giving. Of course, I love to get stuff, and it's always fun to see what people find for me... so don't stop giving, those of you who do.
It has just hit me that maybe one of the reasons I like to give is connected to why I like to perform. I like entertaining people. Giving a great gift is a form of entertaining them. And if you're there, it's not unlike performing onstage--you get immediate feedback as to how you are doing.
Some day--maybe next life--I'm going to have holiday money all saved up in plenty of time to shop (my life for years has been: December Paycheck the last day before break, then rushed holiday shopping, keeping in mind that January bills must also be paid). When this happens, it's going to be the best flippin' Christmas ever!
"Next year all our troubles will be out of sight," indeed!
P.S.: If this post has convinced you that the joy is in the giving, here is my amazon.com wish list and a page on my website about gifts I'd enjoy.
I kid. I just felt I had to end it that way, strictly for reasons of comedic closure.