Southern Christmas

It’s Christmas.

It’s the time of year when retailers try to convince you that every visible structure and open patch of ground must have lights, inflatable snow globes or gaudy trees that pulse to electronic renditions of “Blue Christmas.”

Sure, Christmas is too commercial. We all know that, and there is nothing we can do about it.

Rebecca – known this time of year as Mother Christmas – is dedicated to giving thoughtful and appropriate gifts to anyone who even vaguely qualifies as family. As you might expect, my view of “thoughtful and appropriate” often conflicts with hers.

Most of her family comes in to town the day after Christmas for a rapid destruction of wrapping paper. Rebecca’s gifts are lovely and carefully chosen. However, I suggested that this year we make donations in their names to the charity that provides farm animals to needy African families. My view is that a goat giving milk to children has a lot more pizazz than a platter.

I have a young cousin who is studying to be a domestic terrorist. It was clear that a Nerf machinegun was both thoughtful and appropriate. I was overruled.

I’m kidding, of course. What he really wants is a Taser.

Seriously, Christmas is about reflection, reconnection, and paying attention to whatever we define as sacred.

Christmas is that time when you go to a relative’s house for dinner, have the same menu, talk about the same things with the same people, comment on the same decorations in the same place, and listen to the same music by the same artists played in the same order. And you wouldn’t change one iota of the whole event.

The nights won’t be silent this year, but we can all do our part to make them holy.

I’ve never heard angels sing, but I have heard the second grade class at Atlanta International School sing “Away In A Manger” and I figure that’s close enough.

There are still at least Three Kings somewhere, and maybe they are following stars.

I’ve never ridden in a one horse open sleigh, but I have had some great times dashing through snow.

Whether I have been naughty or nice is open to debate, but naughty is still a lot of fun.

I have my doubts about Peace On Earth, but we can keep working on the goodwill part. Goodwill is tough, and nobody ever said that doing the right thing is easy.

Christmas is, in a very real sense, a very personal holiday. Each of us has our traditions and memories, and we bring our own baggage to the party. Even in a large group our individual celebrations are private. But that doesn’t keep us from giving our best gifts to others: love, understanding, hope, compassion and joy. Try it.

And there’s always that goat.



Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a professional mentalist and mind reader who presents his unique and unforgettable program to conventions, college and universities, sales meetings, private parties, business and civic clubs and more. He has also appeared at the Punchline Comedy Club in Atlanta and produces, along with Jerry Farber and Joe M. Turner, Atlanta Magic Night at the Red Light Cafe in Midtown. He is a member of the Psychic Entertainers Association, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Georgia Magic Club,Buckhead Rotary Club and Friends of Jim The Wonder Dog. You can learn more at He is the author of three books: "Living The Dream," the story of the first ten years of FedEx; "Superman, Hairspray, and the Greatest Goat On Earth," a collection of mostly true stories;, and "Yes Ma'am, You're Right: The Essential Rules For Living With A Woman."  Mark's day job is as a freelance writer and communications and marketing consultant. Mark has traveled around the world twice but has never been to Burlington, Vermont. He does not eat beets or chicken livers, and he has never read "Gone With The Wind." He is the only person he knows who was once a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists. He is a fifth generation Atlantan,  the father of three, and the grandfather of five. All offspring are demonstrably perfect. He lives in Smyrna with his wife Rebecca (aka The Goddess) and two dogs: Ferguson, an arrogant Scottish terrier; and, Lola, a Siberian husky who is still trying to figure out what the hell she's doing in Cobb County.

  1. Thanks for reminding me about that goat, Mark. Enjoy and spread good will.

    1. Bought my wife’s goat at Glad to see other’s doing the same. 

  2. the  on-to team passed through burlington vt. on the way to bar harbor… was somewhat hazzy….so you may not remember……..also recall some hazzy holidays in a 2 storey in ansley park……love and joy…..//ww

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