For those of you new to this column, your crusty chronicler takes issue with anyone who insists on pushing politics in an attempt to prove how so much more enlightened he or she is than the rest of the world. . . especially over the holidays. This is the time of year when your not-so-mild-mannered reporter doffs his suit and dons his two-tone tights to fight for truth, justice, and the American way.

The holidays are here again.

Stay tuned as he battles against online social justice warriors. amateur political pundits, and the overly-politically-correct who pull the PC card only when it suits their ever-changing personal agendas.

So beware the wrath of the crusading columnist as he once more proves the pen is mightier than the sword. Today’s topic: The true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is all about giving. We all know that. Still, we also know that behind that lofty ideal is someone who loves it when someone else gives a present to him or her. It’s OK, we’re only human.

While beating up a total stranger in the wee hours of the morning at your local Walmart to get that two-dollar toaster at a Black Friday sale is never acceptable, do not let others make you feel bad about having a child inside you who loves receiving gifts. At the same time, once in awhile, perhaps we could all benefit from trying something different.

Give something of yourself

You 20-somethings can laugh, but the truth is that every Christmas could be the last for you or someone you love. Do you really want someone you care about to remember you as the one who gave them the gaseous-vapor activated singing bass or the Lady GaGa crotch Chia Pet?

It’s the thought that counts.

It’s about spending quality time with them, hugging them and finding a personal way to express how you feel.

Tell them how you feel. Leave them with a significant memory so that if that holiday gathering goodbye is the last one you will ever have, there will be no regrets about things left unsaid.

Sometimes a memory is the best gift one could ever receive

Several years ago I met a woman online named Tina. I assumed she was interested in me only because I’m a professional writer. No one knows who I am and yet I pay my bills by writing. I was simply a curiosity to her (I thought).

Despite my protestations that she might not find me so witty and charming in person, we agreed to meet in the Claremont Village in California. It’s a public place that is great for strolling and people-watching. It’s got some interesting stores including the indie-owned Rhino Records, and even a Starbucks if you are or your date are that unimaginative.

Not being a romance novelist, you will have to bear with me as I try to recall the spirit of Christmas past.

We met in the Rhino Records parking lot where I sat pretending to be texting her and not knowing she was walking straight for me. We strolled down the holiday-ensconced sidewalk checking out the decorated shops and had a few drinks at one of the festive pubs.

I struggled to get Tina to talk about herself instead of insisting that my life was so interesting. I told her it was difficult to be entertaining when one is lost in a pair of pretty eyes. Women never believe me when I say I am just a shy, innocent white boy who grew up in a small town named Souderton.

I remember we talked about our somewhat limited, simple Christmas plans with our kids. We both admitted we were not heavy drinkers and we both had to drive home.

I walked her to her car. She asked about “the park.”

She reminded me that I had promised to show it to her if she thought the date was going well. We drove to the local park, walked and talked some more, looking at all the nearby houses brightly-lit for Christmas. As we once more neared our cars she stopped and turned and looked into my eyes saying: “Well, I’m not running screaming.”

Tina had obviously remembered my cautioning her about meeting guys on the internet. We shared a smile. I took her right hand into my left and slowly reached up to lightly lift her chin with my right hand. “I’m gonna take that as my cue to do something I have been wanting to do since I first saw you.”

I learned in and to the left to kiss her first softly on the lifts and then, feeling welcomed, I gave her a long, deep, probing kiss.

I held her in my arms and we stood there wrapped together kissing again. Soon we were in the back of her SUV necking like kids on Christmas break.

Unfortunately, neither one of us was lucky enough to be free of adult responsibilities and so a couple hours later as we came up for air, she reminded me she had to go into the hospital a few hours later that very morning but told me how much she wanted to see me again. I agreed to see her the very next weekend and promised to call her.

We got out of her SUV. She told me that I had made this her best Christmas in a long time despite her upcoming hospital stay and other recent medical issues. She confessed that she wished the night (in truth the morning) never had to end.

Tina made me promise again to call her as it began to rain. I took her into my arms one last time and kissed her. I held her tighter to me and we continued a long, wet, passionate goodbye kiss before getting into our own cars, and making our individual ways home.

Giving of ourselves can become a treasured moment

Despite the old-school “three day rule,” I found myself calling her two days later. After all, she had been in the hospital so surely it was OK. A woman answered but it was not Tina. It was her daughter.

I do not even recall her name. It was what she told me, so close to Christmas, that will forever be etched in my memory. Tina had died.

I know my life did not need complications and yet something had clicked between us.

I admit it. I was surprised how hard the news hit me.

I inhaled deeply and her daughter told me that while in the hospital, the doctor discovered she had pneumonia. Tina never left the hospital because of it. I did not know what to say but managed to get “I’m sorry” out of my mouth.

Her daughter told me Tina had told her about our date. She had gone on about it off and on the entire time, her daughter was visiting. Her daughter assured me that I had made her mother very happy and that perhaps it would mean something to know that her last Christmas season had been special because of me.

Indeed, one of the last peoples she spoke of had been me. Apparently, a little conversation and honest affection had been more valuable to her than anything else.

I had made her last moments outside the hospital enjoyable and memorable.

Again, I’m no novelist. The only “happy ending” here is the bittersweet memory that comes to mind every time I hear the song “Laughter In The Rain." I just know that two people had a memorable holiday moment because they opened up to each other and shared of themselves.

So this holiday season, even if you can afford to buy everyone everything they want, don’t forget to Give of yourself. Show your loved ones that they truly mean something to you. After all, you may not ever get another chance.

Remember what’s truly important in life. Give of yourself. Give from the heart this Christmas.

My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.

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