The Great Christmas Takeaway

Josh Farnsworth

It's my kind of time.

No, I am not finally in line to inherit the remote control for more than five uninterrupted minutes of side-stepping the kids’ shows for mine.

That time isn't coming.

Not soon.

It is Christmastime!

Christmas is in full swing. Not semi-Christmastime prior to Halloween. We are in the epicenter of full-scale Yuletide cheer.

Christmas is impossible to ignore. This is especially true for a 3- and 6-year-old surrounded by family members (myself included) who obsess over the wonderments of December 25. There are many components to Christmas that have become a part of the American fabric of Christmas celebrations. 

For the young and unaccustomed, Christmastime can bombard us.

Heck, drive down any Massachusetts street in December and the millions of tiny lights illuminating the neighborhood let you know there is nowhere to hide.

But with so much going on, it can be hard for kids to boil it all down. For my kids (and yours, if you accept this list of personal agenda items), I offer the Christmas takeaways I yearn for them to have...

  • The only real estate worth stressing over is a well-frosted door on your gingerbread house.

  • There is no such thing as too many lights on a house. Same for candles in the window. Light ‘em up!

  • Fake trees are just as festive as real ones. Don't let those pine-pushers make you feel different.

  • Nothing wrong with Christmas shopping on Dec. 24. As a journalist, it only made me stronger when facing a lifetime of deadlines.

  • There are thousands of Christmas movies out there—hundreds on the Hallmark Channel alone. There is no wrong Christmas movie to watch. However, make sure you are present for at least one viewing of:Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, the Charlie Brown Christmas special,Elf andIt's a Wonderful Life.Side note: this only applies if you relinquish the remote control.

  • Don’t wish for a “white Christmas.” Wish for a “lightly dusted Christmas.” Walking around in a New England postcard looks nice with all the white stuff, but not so cute when you’re trying to navigate the roadways.

  • Gingerbread, eggnog, peppermint and sugar cookies are nice holiday flavors, but they are all runners-up to cinnamon. Go ahead and debate me on this one. You’ll lose. Name one cinnamon-flavored holiday treat you dislike. I’ll wait for you to think of one…

  • …See? Nothing.

  • When you go caroling, do it with the confidence of a 3- or 6-year-old loaded up on candy canes and carrying a questionable amount of sleep.

  • Ugly sweaters should be required at every fancy Christmas party. And the ugliest at every said party shall be its king or queen.

  • Those who participate in Elf on a Shelf rituals should be in charge of running this country. They have creativity, organize themselves well, show a great deal of patience and are actively and consistently engaged (all the social media posts are evidence enough of this). Vote Elf on Shelfers next November.

  • Santa is an amazing dude, but he is not a genie. Let’s keep his sleigh as light as possible.

I suppose much of this content is personal and up for debate.

Except the cinnamon piece, of course. I’m right about that.

But there is one last Christmas box to check, which is certainly not specific to Christmastime: kindness.

It really is the only box to ever check.

All the lights and presents and fresh smells and carefully-wrapped and presented seasonal tidings can be intoxicating when ensconced in red and green. Those things run shallow, though, if we trudge through without considering others.

We’re lucky to have the time and resources to celebrate Christmas the way we do. Not everyone has that luxury.

Kids, I want you to understand the religious reasons why we celebrate Christmas, but exercise kindness at every juncture for those who do not. We are linked arm-in-arm in our communities with neighbors, friends and relatives who celebrate everything from Christmas to Hanukkah to Kwanzaa. 

Maybe they partake in Festivus on Dec. 23. No excuses for showing anything less than genuine kindness.


Whether you celebrate or not, I hope your December is jam-packed with positive vibes and cinnamon-flavored treats.

Most importantly, I hope you find your December filled with kindness. It’s my kind of time.

Let’s hope that transfers over to January 2020 and beyond as well.

Merry Christmas! And, Santa, if you are listening, I’ll take those five minutes with the remote control now, please.

Josh Farnsworth is a husband, father of goofballs Cooper and Milo, goofball himself, and award-winning writer and columnist living in Worcester. He can be reached for column ideas at