All I want for Christmas...

By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management
December 19, 2004


My four-year-old son wants a bulldozer for Christmas. Like his mother, he doesn't read this column, so I am safe telling you that he's getting a 24-inch remote controlled Caterpillar front-end loader with a rear back hoe attachment. If you see my wife, tell her I want a dump truck for Christmas. Something 15 or 20 years old that will start most of the time and will haul the things that men who didn't have toy dump trucks as kids would want to haul when they grow up. I'll need someone to tell her I want this, since ' well, you know.

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Amateur writers should be shot at Christmas. We get all syrupy and think we're going to write the next "yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" editorial. We entertain visions of inspiring people to higher emotional and spiritual planes. I am as guilty of it as anyone. Each year, I pretend I am the second coming of C.S. Lewis and extol people to be more concerned about their presence than their presents.

Not this year. This year, I'm focusing on presents. I'm working on the economy. I'm shopping. I bought Wheeler that bulldozer. I went to a weird place called the American Girl Store. I bought my wife a bunch of massage gift certificates. (Shhh.)

Long before Christians began recognizing the birth of Christ in late December, pagans celebrated the winter solstice with festivals of wine, feasting and general revelry. (Some things never change.) We may say that "Jesus is the reason for the Season," but Wal-Mart's December same store sales are consistently higher than Jerry Fallwell's. The economy is the King most of us worship this month, whether we admit or realize it.

Really smart people tell us to slow down and not get so stressed at Christmas. But I get stressed trying to figure out the virgin birth. Or how salvation works. Or how Abraham could have two sons who gave rise to three religions whose followers keep killing each other. To avoid stress, I'm avoiding these topics this Christmas. I'll worry about those things the rest of the year. Right now, I'm focusing on stuff. I'm just going to be like a four-year-old. I'm going to pester my family all week about what they got me, beg to open presents early, visit my friends and family, hug the people I love and get up real early Saturday morning to see if I got a dump truck. It will be good for the economy, I think.

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Christmas is about a spiritual birth in the human soul, the realization of God in Man. I like that. That notion gives me hope. It gives us all hope. Jews, Christians, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists, people from Alabama - we are all connected by something greater than ourselves, an expectant and mysterious Higher Power. I don't understand the mystery. I spend way too much energy trying to figure it out. But not this Christmas. For one week this year, I'm keeping my personal C.S. Lewis locked away.

David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).

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