Most of my Christmases have become hopelessly blurred together, but Christmas 1969 holds a special place in my heart.
In fact, back in 1998 my very first yuletide column took a whimsically nostalgic look at that holiday.
But as the 50th anniversary of Christmas 1969 approaches, I feel compelled to write something with more gravitas.
There were two main things I implored Santa for that year. One was a selection of toys from a yellowing 1927 Montgomery Ward catalog that my mother the collector had picked up at an auction or antique shop somewhere. (I particularly remember a listing for a tin monkey that climbed a string. Surely if elves could manufacture Easy Bake Ovens and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, vintage toys would be a breeze.)
Second, I hoped against hope for the miraculous resurrection of my favorite security quilt (which my mother had consigned to the bonfire because its structural integrity and sanitary tolerability were long gone).
When my little brother and I awakened (only two or three hours after bedtime), lo and behold — Santa had brought lots of neat stuff, but none of the things I had specifically staked my happiness on.
I survived. And after that, I started taking a more subdued, more practical, less pie-in-the-sky approach to wish lists.
Yes, 1969 was a turning point, and I’d like to think my maturity has continued to increase bit by bit every year since then.
I now realize that true security and true happiness do not come from the regaining of lost artifacts or the heaping up of gifts (whether high-tech or retro). And, no, not even from the accumulation of photographs and anecdotes of loved ones long departed.
For the happier and wiser me of 2019, happiness and security have more to do with that Christ child whose manger gets crowded out by candy canes, reindeer and snowmen.
Don’t squirm. If you have come by your alternate beliefs (or non-belief) honestly, I am not here to dismantle your religious convictions in 600 words or fewer.
But if you are a lapsed or lethargic Christian, I hope this festive season (and my encouragement) can rekindle a spark in you.
Whether you slowly drifted away from worship without realizing it, experienced an “epiphany” because of a dishonest TV documentary or just like flitting from one Spirituality Flavor of the Week to another, I hope you’ll rediscover the reason God sent His only begotten Son to earth in the first place.
Spend time with humble people for whom Christmas means more than outrageous electric bills or legendary office parties. Go rock ’em sock ’em on your doubts by studying Christian apologetics books such as “The Historical Reliability of the New Testament” (Craig L. Blomberg), “Are the Gospels Full of Contradictions?” (Jonathan Morrow) and “Jesus: Man or Myth?” (Carsten Peter Thiede).
Yes, I enjoy crafting a satirical smackdown or groan-producing pun; but my deepest satisfaction comes from sharing something inspirational.
Missing out on a tin monkey was not the end of the world. But there definitely will be an end of the world.
In God’s creation, there are things more eternal than your maxed-out credit card. There are things more delicious than premium eggnog. There are things immeasurably worse than stale fruitcake.
Get your priorities right and spreading good tidings of great joy will become second nature.
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” His column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.