Advice from the most honest one in the room

Norman Rockwell was an idealist, or he lived in a time before hyper-consumerism and ease of travel made the holidays one giant reason to drink. Sweating, honking, cursing people fill the streets and malls (and that’s just my wife). Family stress reaches an all-time high. People spend more money than they are supposed to. It’s all a recipe for depression, insanity, and violence. Or something like that.

I find there are two brands of people around the holidays. There are those who fully embrace the sickness, spend half the time planning their alcohol consumption, and talk about how they can’t wait for the season to be finished. These people are honest but completely difficult to be around. Then there are the people who are annoyingly happy and pretend to completely ignore the insanity around them. These people are liars and completely difficult to be around.

It usually takes me until around Christmas Eve to forget that Norman Rockwell is dead. [Seriously, he died 20 years ago. Emphysema. Rosalynn Carter went to his funeral. He was 84. A good life, but one long gone.] I had an ideal childhood and I suspect/hope my son(s) will look back and think the same. I still have a hard time reconciling it all. That is, I have a hard time being purposefully cheery just because I’m supposed to. Around Christmas Eve, however, I can drink the Rockwell Kool-Aid without being afraid it was a refreshment at the Jim Jones School of Art and Design. It helps that I have kid with bright eyes and not one jaded bone in his body. My son got into the holidays last year, bit only so much as to know he was going to get a bunch of presents. This year, he’s still all about getting stuff, but he’s also exhibiting some maturity that I don’t even see in some adults.

I solicited some advice here earlier this month on ways I could help my kid realize this season was not all about getting junk. After a bit of thought, we ended up taking him to the store and letting him collect care package stuff for the soldiers still stuck overseas. We all sat together in the middle of our living room floor and made up a bunch of packages which we dropped off at our neighborhood holiday parade.

Something just tells me my kid already gets it. He knows the difference between good and bad. He accepts that he has both in him. He’s not afraid to talk about it. At first I couldn’t decide if the video below was funny, scary, or sweet. Then I decided it was enough of all three to share it here.

Happy holidays, folks, and above all, peace…for you, your family, and all you love.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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10 Responses

  1. Kym says:

    Aw, geeze, I was so successfully avoiding the Christmas tears – until now. Happy Holidays, Otis family.

  2. Pauly says:

    Merry Christmas to the Otis clan.

  3. Dr. Chako says:

    This time last year I was huddled in a small hospital in Baghdad, Iraq and unwrapping holiday presents from like-minded souls. It means more than you know.

    Happy holidays. Please pass the Kool-Aid.


  4. Betty says:

    Damn cute kid!

    But really it’s the sexy deep Otis voice that might have me coming back in the wee hours after many adult beverages.

    Merry Christmas to you all (tell your wife I miss her blogging!)

  5. Strawberry Shortcake says:

    Otis – that just made my Christmas! I just showed my Mom and she said “ohhhhhawww”….

    I love you guys!

  6. Benjo says:

    Totally awesome. When I grow up I want a family like yours.

  7. April says:

    Gawd I love that Southern drawl! Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  8. Drizztdj says:

    I could use a shot of Kool-Aid, and a shot of whatever makes your kid tick.


  9. Da Goddess says:

    I ended up watching the longer version and loving it even more!

    What a great kid you have there.

  10. animal lover says:

    I loved reading your blogs……however I just wanted to remind you that animals are not here for our entertainment. There is a lot of cruelty involved to get an animal to perform a human task (ride a bike,kick a field goal,etc). Your note on this would be funny if it wasn’t really happening all over the world. Please remember this when the circus is in town. I do not remember the name of the website but it shows behind the scenes footage of trainers for Barnum and Bailey’s using fire hoses, electric prods, etc to train the elephants. Read about Flora the elephant on Free Flora. She was with the circus for many years and was rescued and is now in a sanctuary in Tennessee. See how horrible it is for a baby elephant to be torn from it’s Mother to spend it’s life making money for Barnum and Bailey. One day hopefully we as a society will not teach our children to be entertained by exploiting another living creature. For more information on this check out the humane society’s web site. Thank You very much.