To me, the glory of Christmas can always be found in one of those snow globes of hope and humor that Frank Capra crafted, or from the wry and knowing stories of Jean Shepherd or Charles Schulz.
Can you even imagine Christmas without a young George Bailey riding a coal shovel across an icy pond, or Chevy Chase putting a staple through the outdoor lights? How about the way Judy Garland's eyes glisten in "Meet Me in St. Louis" -- like ice rinks -- or Will Ferrell stepping onto an escalator for the first time in "Elf"?
Hollywood is Santa. Its sleigh is brimming with national treasures. Even money-lovin' Hollywood, which gets so much wrong, at least gets Christmas right.
Why can't we?
"Dear Jesus, I hope you had a good Halloween," the little guy says during Sunday grace.
He is completely serious. His sisters and big brother laugh so hard, they nearly fall off their thrones. His mom can't even keep a straight face. That's how grace goes lately -- full of inadvertent one-liners.
The other night, we passed the hospital where the little guy was born nearly six years ago to the day.
"Hey, that's where you were born," I tell him.
"Hmm," he says.
"I wonder if they miss me," he says.
For our family, Christmas is like a genetic defect. We celebrate it too hard, with too many expectations. You get a hint of this by the obsessive way we pick out a tree.
"I like this one," the little guy says.
"That's a fire hydrant," I say.
"How 'bout this one?" says the little girl.
"Can you spin it around?" my wife asks the attendant.