Find a simple way to celebrate Christmas

By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management, LLC
December 22, 2013

After seeing someone on television suggest it, I recently went through an exercise in which I listed all of the warm, touching, memorable moments from my childhood Christmases.

It was a very short list.

We’re not supposed to say it, but this can be a pretty stressful, or even dreadful, season for some people.

And it’s not just about rushing to buy gifts we can’t afford, baking cookies we don’t need or spending time with family we don’t like. There is just something inexplicable about the sense of melancholy or outright depression that some people experience this week and month.

Maybe it’s about expectations. I know of few people who live a “Night Before Christmas” type of Christmas. Most people tend more toward Clark Griswold.

For years my wife and I hosted a Christmas party for about 200 people. For two weeks prior to the soiree no one was allowed to sit on a sofa or use the powder room, lest we mess up the house.

You think that wasn’t stressful?

Or perhaps our stress comes from the conflict between the often competing spiritual, social and material focuses of this time of year.

And then we have the eggshells of Christmas and Hanukah, and in some place, Ramadan. Happy Holidays? Merry Christmas? Super Solstice?

I understand and honor “Jesus is the reason for the season.” But it really isn’t for everyone, even all Christians. I grew up in a public school system that celebrated the birth of Christ, but a Christian church that didn’t recognize Christmas as a religious holiday.

Some people would argue that church wasn’t Christian, but don’t dare say that to Brother Davidson.

Don’t ask me to explain it. I was a kid. And no wonder I was a confused 10-year-old.

And now I have to decide whether Santa is black or white?

Several years ago my kids started arguing about something as we opened gifts on Christmas morning. I don’t remember why.

As punishment, I stopped the opening of gifts and made the kids collect every edible treat and soft drink we had around the house. We loaded into the car, with everyone complaining the entire time.

Then we drove to the mission district on Broadway and distributed homemade cookies, pies and cakes to people who were spending Christmas morning hanging around on the sidewalk.

After an hour or so, we were all laughing and passing a football across Broadway with a group of homeless men.

Finally, sometime after noon, we returned home and opened gifts.

The next year my kids looked forward to our Christmas visit to Broadway.

This story is not a narcissistic tale about me or my family. It’s about finding a simple way to celebrate Christmas. Regardless of the religious tradition—or even lack of it—for thousands of years, each December man has, in some way, celebrated moving from a place of darkness to light.

And like a child king born in a humble barn, sometimes it helps to have lowered expectations.

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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