By Barney Blakeney
I thought I was the only one until my brother from another mother, Shoot Me, called a few minutes ago to share two concerns. First he said while driving down King Street on the peninsula this weekend he noticed the street seemed “glum” because of the lack of Christmas lighting and decorations. His second concern was more about my personal wellbeing – affordable senior citizen housing.
Every Christmas lately, I get a severe case of ‘Bah Humbug’. As a kid, Christmas was a glorious time. Even after learning the real deal about Santa Claus, the anticipation of toys filled me with enthusiasm until I was well into my adolescence.
As a teenager Christmas took on a different role. It became a time for revelry and a break from the routine of school. The Christmastime was just as glorious as before, but the activities were different. As a small child Christmas was about roaming through the neighborhood and playing with toys. As a teen, Christmas about roaming through the city and running with the boys. Shoot Me and I would meet at one or the other’s house early morning and begin a canvass of friends’ homes that took us across the peninsula eating and drinking armed with forks. “Have fork, will travel” was our slogan.
Young adulthood brought other perspectives on Christmas. It still was a glorious time, but it came with more responsibilities. Christmas had become my turn to play Santa Claus. And with that responsibility came a greater focus on the financial aspects of the holiday. I still had the roaming spirit. One Christmas Eve, I was roaming when I should have been assembling a bicycle. Time and wine had me placing the bell on the bicycle’s crossbar instead of its handlebar. The story’s been exaggerated to say I had the handlebar on backwards. In any case, I’ve never lived that one down.
More maturity made Christmas seem more material. The sparkle of the lights seemed to dim. I still enjoyed the change in routine and the revelry, but I became disillusioned by the commercialism. The anticipation of gift-giving somehow seemed less joyous because of the expectation of gift-giving. One Christmas I was asked to give a gift to someone I really didn’t like. That’s when I first realized I had developed the ‘Bah Humbug’ spirit.
I was plagued by the bah humbug ailment for years. Christmas almost had become just another holiday. All of my life I worked during the holiday season and sometimes on Christmas – as a hospital employee while in high school and as a news reporter in my adult profession. Over time, I guess the awe had faded.
One Christmas Eve after working much of the day at The Chronicle, then Charleston City Councilman Robert Ford and I went last minute Christmas shopping at one of the malls. The lights again sparkled and the flurry of shoppers hunting gifts for loved ones filled me with Christmas Spirit! I was that kid again!
Most years since then, I still get the Bah Humbug ailment. It lasts usually until about Christmas Eve. Then magically, the Christmas Spirit kicks in. I’m hoping that happens again this year. Like my brother, I’ve been a little dismayed by the seeming lack of Christmas decorations. There are few in my neighborhood. The one neighbor who has kids and used to decorate extravagantly moved away a few months ago.
My brother recalled that downtown Charleston’s Christmas decorations in the past was exuberating. North Charleston’s East Montague Avenue beats out downtown King Street this year, he said. I hope the Tecklenburg administration meets the challenge next Christmas.
About my brother’s concern for affordable senior citizen housing, I’ll save that subject for another time – too depressing. I feel the Christmas Spirit kickin’ in!