I don’t hear complaints about our lengthy Christmas season as often as I once did, but Scrooges still sound off from time to time.

I don’t pay attention, although I sometimes comment, “Well, ain’t it the truth?” when I hear how Christmas is too commercial or why starting holiday sales well before Thanksgiving is ruining the country.

That’s not an agreement, but it does defuse the ardor and length of the complaints.

The Christmas season is much longer than it was when I was a child. Then, I didn’t have nearly as much time to fantasize about Christmas morning. But it was enough to do a lot of wishing before Santa Claus sneaked into the house.

Not all of my wishes came true. Far from it. But any wish granted was a big deal, and I don’t remember being disappointed, ever. Christmas always was exciting.

The way I see it, if most people really objected to a prolonged holiday season, there wouldn’t be all those year-round Christmas stores that seem to do a pretty good business. Nor would we have had “Christmas in July” sales.

Certainly, Christmas became a big deal, businesswise, because of marketing, but vast numbers of shoppers pay attention to ads.

We simply have many more families today who have made conscious decisions to make Christmas what it is. It comes at a time when people have planned for the holiday or are using Christmas as a last, enormous celebration before the end of the year.

My presents under the tree didn’t cost nearly as much in 1955 as presents do today, but Santa left things that were totally outside the family’s normal spending plan.

As the holiday season grew longer and longer, it never pushed Jesus to the side. When we said our special Christmas prayers, it didn’t occur to us that it was wrong to include appreciation of earthly delights with praise for the Christ child.

Giving was special, and receiving — worldly and spiritual — was cause for joy.

I am grateful for the extended holiday season because it gives charitable organizations an opportunity to accept donations that support positive missions year-round and helps make many families’ Christmases much merrier than they otherwise would be.

I belong to two charitable entities that work for children and families all year long. One is a civic club and the other a church with a global mission of serving all children, all people: Kiwanis and The Salvation Army.

There are many others deserving our support. I just happened to be lucky enough to land with two I believe in as much as I do the spirit of Christmas and the reason we have Christmas in the first place. But as I said, these two — like many others — serve everyone. Nobody is excluded, ever.

So I like a long holiday season. I get to greet many people who are merry and bright and all too happy to be able to help, even if it’s a bit of change at a time. People don’t mind being generous as they are able, and from what I can tell, they see Christmas as the perfect time to give.

It’s not an obligation. Nobody is judging. Generally, nobody knows who gave what or how much. But people who give to charities and churches they trust know the gifts and the money are going to the right places for the right reasons.

Dad and Mom belonged to a couple of organizations that gave away food boxes at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I helped deliver. I started doing it because I was told I would. After I gave that first family the big box of food, I wanted to do it.

I must admit, my sensitivity to Christmas was forever changed by two little girls way off in the distant past. They were thinly clad and making their way through falling snow. At least the younger girl had a scarf for her head and socks. The older girl was barefooted and had no scarf. It was cold.

I saw the older girl’s face. It was blank, empty of any emotion. I was young, but I could tell she didn’t care it was Christmas Day. She looked so lost.

By the time Daddy stopped the car and turned around, they were gone, disappearing down a freezing concrete sidewalk among the houses.

There are more little girls and little boys like her right now, and just maybe the long Christmas season will give us a chance to find them all and make small but important dreams come true.

So I dismiss complaints about Christmas going overboard. There are a lot of people who reach out beyond themselves to help others because they care and they know there are many children and their families who need the spirit of Christmas, in all ways.

I still remember how it felt be a kid after Santa came to visit. That feeling ought to be universal.

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Larry Clark is a News Herald correspondent

who can be reached at wryturlc@yahoo.com.

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