Tyrades! By Danny Tyree
I’m writing one of my infrequent serious columns, because I realize there is more to Christmas than non-stop holly jolly mirth.
There will be many freshly vacant spots at Christmas/holiday gatherings this year, whether because of death, hospitalization, relocation, work schedules, military service, estrangement or incarceration.
(My nuclear family remains intact; but in the past year, death has claimed my brother’s mother-in-law, the preacher’s wife, a co-worker, several classmates’ loved ones and an alarming number of customers at my day job.)
I can’t fill your stocking with any game-changing advice for coping with loss or distance at this festive/stressful time of year, but I’ll rehash what others have said. Share warm or funny memories of the departed. Make a charitable donation in their name. Invite a widow or bachelor who has NOTHING BUT empty seats to share the holiday with your family. Stop being a technophobe and avail yourself of the tools for communicating with those who must be far away.
Mostly, I’d like to offer advice to see that YOU don’t become one of those being mourned or missed. “Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow,” sang Judy Garland. But sometimes we go out of our way to tempt Fate.
More power to you if you can’t meet an arbitrary December 25 deadline because you’ve traveled cross-country to improve yourself academically or professionally, if you’re defending our great nation or if you’re overseas performing humanitarian work. But a lot of reasons for being absent are less noble.
Put things in perspective before you let petty squabbles create a yuletide vacuum this year or in the future. Thinking about that babe in the manger should help us do away with some more of the frivolous reasons for being a “no-show” or barring the door. That babe grew up to ask forgiveness for those who sent him to his death. How can we refuse to associate with someone who voted for the wrong party?
That babe grew up to be infamous for associating with tax collectors and sinners. How does one justify writing off a friend or relative whose lifestyle is either too old-fashioned or too ultra-modern?
That babe grew up to be an itinerant preacher who eschewed worldly possessions and had not even a place to lay his head. Isn’t it silly to form a permanent family rift over how great-aunt Matilda’s crochet bathroom plunger holders were divided up?
Yes, each and every one of us will SOMEDAY merit an empty place at the holiday table. But we don’t have to rush the eventuality.
Get those brakes and tire treads inspected. Replace those smoke alarm batteries. Wean yourself from cigarettes. Find a doctor you can trust, have those checkups and heed the advice. Stop texting and driving, running red lights and trying to beat trains to the crossing. Spend a little time pondering whether those guys you hang out with are really your friends or just some bozos who will split once they’ve made you a candidate for a squad car or an ambulance. Learn to count to 10 before venting your righteous indignation on someone who just might be “packing” and itching for a chance to blow someone away.
The perfect holiday gathering is a myth; but before you Rest In Peace, take a few steps to maximize holiday peace and good will.
©2014 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”. Danny’s’ weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.