What Makes A "Good" Christmas?

Just nine shopping days to Christmas? Our contributor Ben Stein doesn't think that's a good way to count down, or to THINK, about the holiday.

I keep seeing in the newspapers that it might not be a "good" Christmas because while visits to stores are up, purchases per visit are down very slightly.

There is also some fear that it might not be a "good" holiday season because fears about the housing correction will scare shoppers into keeping their wallets zipped.

I'm fascinated by this, because I have looked through a Concordance of the Old and New Testaments and I do not find the word "shopping" even once.

I'm not sure when the idea got to be dominant that a "good" Christmas was about total spending, but here respectfully are some alternative suggestions:

Maybe a good Christmas for this most blessed of nations would be when we as a nation and as communities made sure the homeless had a warm, safe place to sleep.

Maybe a good Christmas would not be about buying your kids the latest gizmo for listening to obscene lyrics, but about teaching them that if they are fortunate enough to have extra time or extra money, they can help out at the old age home or at the local animal shelter.

Maybe a good time would not be buying your parents sweaters they will never use, but taking a trip to see them and telling them how much you appreciate that they spent the heart of their lives taking care of you, feeding you, teaching you, putting a roof over your head, warming you with their love and concern.

Maybe the best time of all would be telling your husband or your wife or love partner that you would be lost without him or her and that you're sorry for the selfish things you did that year, and you'll be better next year.

Christmas and Hanukah presents rarely fit and rarely are to your taste. They sit in your closet and collect dust forever.

But gifts in this special, sacred time of love and caring to your family, your friends, and your neighborhood - those are never forgotten. They bring peace of mind for years.

And I seem to recall from my vanished youth that this is the holiday of the prince of peace, not the queen of diamonds.