An Orange For Christmas

Have you heard? Christmas is ruined this year. At least that’s what they say.

How can this be? Well, it has something to do with supply chains, they say. The pandemic decimated the work force, and people were cooped up at home for months on end. Then the government handed out a few $trillion in free money, and folks are intent on spending it. Demand came roaring back and supply can’t keep up.

To make matters worse, there is a log jam of container ships at the biggest ports around the world, also sick dock workers, new regulations, and a full blown energy crisis in Europe and Asia. It’s a perfect storm for ruining Christmas, they say.

“That’s not what Christmas is about,” said many of our friends and associates when they heard the “news,” and they were exactly right. But let’s go with the official narrative for the moment and pretend that Christmas is actually Giftmas, or Spendmas instead of what it truly is. Would it still be ruined?

Perhaps not. It’s not as if all the stores are empty of goods. There is still plenty of “stuff” out there to spend our money on. Is it ruinous if our online order of the latest new and improved trending item that the advertisers tell us is popular this year, does not arrive by December 25th? Is it a national emergency if, instead of getting to select from 12 different colors and 32 accessories for our needful thing, there may only be a handful to choose from? Are Executive Orders required if we are in danger of being forced to use last year’s decorations instead of filling up the cart with the latest imported glitter-encrusted Styrofoam from China? By the way, Mr. President, the ports are already operating around the clock, but thanks for the reassuring words.

If we’re still intent on spending, perhaps there are other options. The gift of spending time with the people we care about is still in plentiful supply. There is abundant time left to make a gift, prepare a meal, or lend a helping hand for Christmas.

In fact, when we disconnect from the crisis promoted in advance by government and media, and pause for a moment to consider the problem, it becomes readily apparent that this predicted disaster is largely a matter of perspective.

There was a story my father liked to tell of a Christmas when he was a child during the Great Depression. It is a story that will sound familiar to many in our area who remember the stories of their ancestors. There wasn’t a lot of money left over that year after the taxes, the doctor and the short list of essentials that the family could not barter or make themselves. On this particular holiday, each of the five children received one bright, fresh and perfect orange as their Christmas gift.

An orange was a rare delicacy in the remote coves of the Southern Appalachians in those days, and its acquisition required not inconsiderable expense and trouble, and a 25 mile round trip to town and back in a wagon for my grandfather.

Not one child complained. Even Dad, the youngest of the clan, knew the sacrifice that simple gift represented, and a lifetime later, after many Christmases of prosperity and abundance, it was the gift of the orange he cherished the most.

The Grinch didn’t steal our Christmas; we sold it to him, and if anyone has spent a single moment in disquietude or trepidation over the predicted demise of Christmas this year, perhaps a bit of chagrin might be instructive to the soul. Shame on us if we allow ourselves to be herded into the next so called crisis to grieve over the unrealized loss of something we don’t need anyhow.

And if you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas this year, I’d like an orange, please.

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