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Who put the ‘merry’ in Christmas?

December 24, 2011
By Andy Heller , Daily Press

FLINT - Good morning and merry Christmas, although to be honest I've never understand why everyone says "Merry Christmas" instead of something else.

I don't know about you but I don't associate Christmas with merriness. Happiness, yes. Wonder, yes. Reverence, yes. Contentment, maybe. Gluttony, perhaps, depending on whether I'm at my mom's house. (She makes all my favorites). Time off, certainly. But not merriness. If someone is consistently merry at Christmas, there's a good chance they've been hitting the eggnog too hard.

I always wonder about who came up with the phrases we use in everyday life. Someone had to be first. Who was it that first linked merry with Christmas and why would they pick that word?

It can't have anything to do with Jesus' birth. Births are many things, but merry isn't one of them, even when it's the Lord's kid. I went through the delivery of our three children with Marcia. If she's any guide, we ought to be saying "Have an 'Arrgh, you did this to me!' Christmas," followed by joyful sobbing.

Speaking of joyful, maybe that's the word we use. Maybe "Have a joyful Christmas" would be a good compromise. What's more joyful than a baby coming into the world?

In any case, insert your adjective of choice before the word Christmas and do your best to have that kind of day, OK?

Now on with the rest of this column. Like the words we use to describe it,

Christmas itself means different things to different people, and since I can't know what it means to you, I'll bore you with secular aspects of what it means to me - Andy's Top Five, if you will. Perhaps you'll recognize yourself.

Christmas means watching my kids open their gifts before I touch any of mine. As a kid, that used to irritate me no end when my grandmother and parents would do it. And now I'm doing it myself. Cue Elton John: " it's the circle, the circle of liiiife."As a kid you never quite believe that "better to give than receive" stuff. But sure enough

Christmas means ... forgetting to buy batteries. I do it every year. It's a Christmas tradition at our house. We'll buy the kids some cool new gizmo and then forget it needs juice. You'd think the kids would learn and buy their own batteries. Apparently they're not very smart.

Christmas means heading downstairs before the kids to make sure everything is ready and in place. That moment when the hounds are released from the top of the stairs is the single best moment of Christmas to me.

I remember being one of those hounds. It's just as good on the parent end.

Christmas means gaining five pounds of cookie fat. I have a weakness for Christmas cookies, especially if they have those crunchy little balls on them. Don't you?

Christmas means being glad that it's over. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas. But I also love it when it's over. That means mom and dad get to relax for a bit. You've been there. You know what I mean.

Hang in there, it's almost over.

But until it is, have yourself a joyful little Christmas.


EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at You can e-mail him at



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