I spent the Christmas holidays with my family in Mississippi.
I grew up in Mississippi. Born there, went to high school and college in the state, and had my first job there. Morning and afternoon news at a radio station in case you're keeping score at home. I gave my heart to God in Mississippi, but only after football got first dibs. After joining the United States Air Force and spending four years overseas, I came back home to Mississippi.
I don't live there now. I'm in South Florida, only a little ways north of Miami. My wife is from here; my son was born here. But it ain't home. And as much as I believe the phrase "you only need family for the holidays to be special", let's face it... Christmas in 75 degree weather wearing shorts and flip-lops just isn't the same.
Not that there's a foot of snow on the ground here in Mississippi, but at least there's a bite in the wind. But the weather isn't what I love about the holidays. It's just a perk.
- I love the cartoon and stop-action specials on television like "Rudolph," "Frosty," and of course "Charlie Brown's Christmas."
- I love all the messages from the troops to their families back home and the show of support by everyone. I just wish it was like that all the time.
- I love Christmas lights. Really, I do. No, really.
- I love giving presents to my son and seeing him try to open them. I love the fact that he got a train set this year and it didn't matter what else he got after that. Everything paled in comparison to Thomas, Percy and the rest of the engines. We could have given the kid a gold-plated riding toy with diamond rims and he wouldn't have cared.
- I love the food. Which is why I'll never be my ideal weight. And that's why I'll survive when I'm stranded in a life raft with Bob from "The Biggest Loser." Take that, skinny boy.
- I love Christmas music. Just not before Thanksgiving, please. Because then I hear John Lennon and Yoko telling me that war is over and I want to rip the radio out of the dashboard.
But most of all, I love the fact that for one month, everyone is just a little nicer. They open doors for each other, they offer to help someone with a heavy bag, they allow someone else to have that closer parking spot... okay, that last one isn't true but you get the point. Basically, we smile at each other a lot more during the holidays. If that was the way people acted all year long, the bad guys wouldn't exist and there'd be no need for thriller writers like me. And that'd be okay; I could learn to like writing about dogs and 17th-century love stories.
You know what, never mind. Stop smiling and start being mean again. I got too much Jane Austin in college. Let's blow some stuff up. Happy New Year!