By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Mike Tasos: Christmas is a time to make cherished memories
Mike Tasos

It’s a dance performed every year, not set to a carol of any music genre. I’m quite certain you’ve all shuffled to the Christmas Shopping Samba that goes something like this:

“What do you want for Christmas?”

“Peace on earth and goodwill.”

“You said that last year.”

“How about one of them drones so I can spy on the neighbors.”

“You’ve lost it.”

“OK then, how about a national championship for Notre Dame?”

“No drone. Let’s go with a balsa wood airplane with a rubber-band powered propeller.”

I have come to view Christmas as a time of making others smile. Over-tipping at a restaurant is a hoot. I sign the check, hitting the server a good lick, then high tailing it out of the restaurant.

Only once have I not made my escape anonymously. There were hugs, tears and profound gratitude. Her smile was a gift.

I’ve come to realize there are gifts all around us, if only we put away Christmas angst and get busy with what we are given. Don’t look for wrapping paper and bows. We just have to open our eyes adjust our outlook.

Last Monday morning, I found myself in the checkout line at the Cruse Marketplace Publix. It was a little past dark 30. There was a pack of ravenous boys in the basement, who needed biscuits and OJ. 

In retrospect, it was foolish to shop so early. Most of the boys wouldn’t start their day for several hours. 

But just past dawn, I received an unexpected gift when I ran across a spry, smiling senior citizen (I know I’m a senior, but this guy had me beat). He wasn’t in line to buy anything. Ralph DiSimone was working!

We discussed the merits of witnessing dawn’s early light. It seems Ralph is a Coast Guard veteran who’s seen many sunrises while on the Chesapeake.

What a treat. As I faced an early start to the workweek, I reflected that Ralph’s demeanor was a gift. I discovered that he works one day a week, so the stars must have aligned for us to meet. 

I have thought about him all week.

I may need a referral to a shrink but having a basement full of boys aged 20-22 was another gift. Greg has seemingly become quite adept at sustaining the “sleepover” activities, that were a staple from days gone by.

It’s a crew that went to Forsyth Central. Most played baseball for the Bulldogs.

After hitting Giorgio’s for BOGO pizzas, I turned into the neighborhood and marveled at what passed for diversity in the form of a massive whiffle-ball game. 

The players ranged from friends, students from several colleges to a teammate, Ethan Hankins, who is aching to show his stuff when the Cleveland Indians organization is finally open for business.

Before you think: “Aren’t they a little old for that?” 

I know there are a lot worse things they could be doing on Christmas break because once upon a time, I did them. I can gladly live with videogame fueled outbursts. The set-up was a Mario Baseball tournament. 

I’m not sure, but I think there was a mention of “over-under” and “odds,” so there was wagering going on. 

It’s probably a relief to the parents that at least they’re not losing the lunch money they handed over for all those years.

I’ve known most of them since they wore baseball pants with elastic waistbands. Seeing them grow into fine young adults is another one of those wrapping paperless gifts.

Last Sunday night, while I planned for my week, I smiled when Davis Smith, who has been a neighbor for most of his life, sat in my office and just wanted to …  talk. And that’s what we did, discussing, school (“don’t be in a hurry to graduate”), classes, his new business and many other stops in-between.

Chris and Greg met Davis all those years ago when he shouted down the hill: “Hi guys. Come on up.” 

Along with his mom, Cherry, and sister Ansley, have constantly provided the gift of friendship to all of us.

I love that kids can be kids. Chris and three others are heading for Orlando this week. Disney World should be (and is) a place where the acidic events of the day simply disappear. He’ll return with tales of truly magical moments.

Christmas is for kids of all ages. It’s the day, the season, the attitude. It’s a time to make memories, cherished memories. For everyone except a lot of political leaders.

As is the case every year, they’ll have their names firmly etched on Santa’s naughty list.

Mike Tasos’ column is published every other weekend. Looking for simply the best pie for Christmas feast, better get in touch with Dawn ( She and her three daughters are an example of local small business excellence.