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I just left a phone message for one of my friends. Here is how it went….

“Hello! This is the Ghost of Christmas Future. I am planning Christmas for next year to which you are invited. It will be a Christmas full of only the touchy feely things associated with Christmas. You know – the things that matter most – peace on earth, the birth of Jesus and love. This event will be celebrated on an island on the north end of the Bahamas which is 4 feet by 7 feet wide since this is all the space we’ll need for people who actually still buy into this concept.”

If you’re not laughing you are a priest. If you only smiled, you still have small children at home or your children are all out of the house. And if you laughed out loud you have teenagers.

Sure, we believe that the spirit of Christmas is all that matters. But why doesn’t someone tell that to Sears whose commercials the day after Christmas show a family running out to make more purchases while they leave the car seat holding their baby on the floor of their kitchen. Or to Old Navy whose ice skating super modelquins remind you as they skate past the perfect-frozen-smile family that it’s just not Christmas without your Alpine Hoodie. Or to Walmart whose cashiers are happy to help you save money and live better while they simulate “Carol of the Bells” with their register lights. I mean who ever saw 12 manned cash registers in a row at a Walmart anyway?

I have concluded that the only way to transcend the American culture when it comes to Christmas is to accept it. If I can laugh at myself as I purchase striped furry socks for my three girls (21, 20 and 18) when I know they’ll only wear them in the house (if at all) or chuckle as my 17-year-old son opens a box of handkerchiefs with this initials on them while asking me, “What is this?” then I know my pulse still beats with a little holiday “ho-ho-ho.” For it’s when my daughter who is studying in Europe calls me on Christmas Day and I can hear the “I miss you all so much” in her voice without her even saying it or the slightly puffed chest of my son as he and I took the gifts to the alter at Christmas Eve mass that I remember that in spite of the commercialism of Christmas, the jewel of its message is in those quiet moments that hold the greatest shine. For we need to remember that the loudest, the longest and the most repeated messages are not the ones that percolate in our hearts for the twelve months that follow. Listen to the silence of your heart for in there the spirit of Christmas is on every channel.