Unload the coal and sit a spell

Dec. 21, 2013 @ 05:22 PM

Have a seat. The flurry is winding down, and it’s time for you to chill out, too. Here’s a column with some rhymes, some anecdotes, some factoids and some encouragement to drop the fuss and relax with the rest of us. (Or observe Festivus.)

The halls are decked, or at least you haven’t decked anyone at the malls. The stockings are hung by the chimney, or at least flopped down on the floor by the television after the dog chewed holes to get at a piece of 2012 candy. The presents have been bought, or rationalized that so-and-so has enough stuff already. Other folks are grieving, some are lonely some don’t give a hoot, some have wrapped and baked and are already counting their loot. Some don’t celebrate Christmas so it’s just a welcome break from the fuss, some are just weary from catching the bus. Take a load off. Set down that figurative sack of coal that’s been weighing on you.

I’m over here wearing a $5 holiday turtleneck I bought at Walmart. It’s awesome and I’m not wearing it to be a hipster at a theme party but because I’m in the Walmart shopper tax bracket and I like holiday stuff and it’s festive. And my love for the holidays is a ye ole love, as in high school, a journalism classmate and I dubbed ourselves the holiday editors because we wrote all the holiday stories. Ask me about the origin of a holiday, and I’ll tell you something you didn’t know. P.S. It’s OK that Jesus wasn’t born in December; Christians can celebrate his birth anytime. It’s also OK to celebrate holidays differently than other people, and the ruder you are about it, the more you’re losing the spirit of anything.

The holiday spirit in Durham smolders like its historic Brightleaf tobacco. I went to the Lucky Strike tower lighting at American Tobacco, and for those of us treading Tobacco Road, it just seems normal to continue using cigarette brand names for places and things and it doesn’t mean we’re all going to die of lung cancer (unless you smoke, so quit now) or that we’re celebrating emphysema. It just means that’s what it says on the tower, and it’s the old factory, and lots of people worked there and it is so. Last year I was all set to go to the tower lighting on our way out of town to visit relatives, but when I rushed home from work to gather my family, we found something else rushing at home – a broken sewer pipe in the backyard. It’s like “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” sometimes, and that makes life interesting (in retrospect only).

I wrote about Elf on the Shelf last year and I tell you again this year that I repeated to my kid that the elf can join a union and doesn’t have to do recon for Santa if he doesn’t want to, because we have the NSA for that. I actually just said the first part, not the second part. Also, apparently kids at school discuss things like that security cameras are Jesus and Santa watching you. I did dispel that notion.

Another seasonal tidbit for you today: Don’t go making a poinsettia salad, but you should know that the Christmas plants aren’t actually considered poisonous like some people think. North Carolina is the nation’s second largest producer of poinsettias, by the way, and second in Christmas tree sales, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. When it comes to agriculture and Christmas botanical traditions, North Carolinians are a bountiful bunch.

Now go finish the rest of what’s black and white and read all over. I suppose with color photos, that joke doesn’t work anymore. Read the newspaper and have a very Merry Christmas. Or Happy Holidays!

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at dvaughan@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6563.