Will this be your best Christmas ever?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

When writing advertising copy, I sometimes find myself desperately searching for a zinger of a tag line – and settling for trite admonitions such as “Make this the best hunting season ever” or “Make this the best summer vacation ever.”

I despise such capitulations to deadlines, because listeners with terminal illnesses, maxed-out credit cards or fruitless marriage counseling sessions may perceive the sentiments as glib or clueless.

Never is the situation more danger-fraught than at Christmas. A melancholy Judy Garland yuletide favorite notwithstanding, an ill-timed “Have the merriest Christmas ever” can hit people the wrong way.

Assuming you don’t relish being hit the wrong way, take the reindeer by the horns (er, antlers) and accept responsibility for your own Merry Christmas. Clement C. Moore wrote about a visit from Saint Nicholas; he never promised that LIFE was going to climb down your chimney with goodies galore. So like Ms. Garland, you may have to brainstorm ways to “muddle through somehow.”

Cherished memories can be both a blessing and a curse around the holidays. Sideline your rose-colored glasses and apply some perspective to those much-ballyhooed “simpler times.” Not everything is perfect for everyone all the time. In those halcyon days of visiting your grandparents and playing with an inexhaustible supply of cousins, it’s very likely that your “carefree” grandparents had already lost their own grandparents.

It’s likely that someone in the crowd struggled with polio or tuberculosis, or lost sleep worrying about loved ones facing enemy fire. Unless you grew up in a prolonged economic sweet spot, your stoic mom and dad probably had to make genuine sacrifices to see that you had that bike or that dolly.

On these cold, gray winter days, some people spend less time stoking the fireplace than fanning the embers of old grudges. Be the better person and try reaching out to friends and relatives who are no longer in your social circle. Practice deflecting touchy topics. Santa’s elves have a corner on building toys – try building some bridgesto replace those that you’ve burned behind you.

Accentuate the positive. Instead of counting the empty seats at the table, count the freckles on that step-grandchild you’re meeting for the first time. Count the job offers heaped upon that nephew who lives on the far side of the country. Count the extra hours of family time that modern conveniences afford you (if everyone will forego the modernly convenient smartphone for a few hours).

Bad habits can steal all the happiness of Christmas. Don’t feel obligated to wait until the ball has dropped in Times Square to unleash your resolutions – get a head start.

If you’ve worn out a pair of scissors clipping obituaries from the newspaper, it’s time to be proactive and make some new friends. Depending on your budget and your mobility, do your best to get to know your neighbors, strike up a conversation while standing in line, volunteer to feed the less fortunate or send a card of encouragement to a young stranger who exhibits good citizenship.

Even with all my coaching, this may not be your best Christmas ever. Or even in the Top 5. But loneliness and regret don’t have to be inevitable parts of anyone’s Christmas. (Reasonable) happiness is yours for the taking.

I say the following with the least glibness and cluelessness possible: Have yourself a Merry Christmas.

Copyright 2022 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

Controversial author Harlan Ellison once described the work of Danny Tyree as "wonkily extrapolative" and said Tyree's mind "works like a demented cuckoo clock."

Ellison was speaking primarily of Tyree’s 1983-2000 stint on the "Dan T’s Inferno" column for “Comics Buyer’s Guide” hobby magazine, but the description would also fit his weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades" column for mainstream newspapers.

Inspired by Dave Barry, Al "Li'l Abner" Capp, Lewis Grizzard, David Letterman, and "Saturday Night Live," "Tyree's Tyrades" has been taking a humorous look at politics and popular culture since 1998.

Tyree has written on topics as varied as Rent-A-Friend.com, the Lincoln bicentennial, "Woodstock At 40," worm ranching, the Vatican conference on extraterrestrials, violent video games, synthetic meat, the decline of soap operas, robotic soldiers, the nation's first marijuana café, Sen. Joe Wilson’s "You lie!" outburst at President Obama, Internet addiction, "Is marriage obsolete?," electronic cigarettes, 8-minute sermons, early puberty, the Civil War sesquicentennial, Arizona's immigration law, the 50th anniversary of the Andy Griffith Show, armed teachers, "Are women smarter than men?," Archie Andrews' proposal to Veronica, 2012 and the Mayan calendar, ACLU school lawsuits, cutbacks at ABC News, and the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.

Tyree generated a particular buzz on the Internet with his column spoofing real-life Christian nudist camps.

Most of the editors carrying "Tyree’s Tyrades" keep it firmly in place on the opinion page, but the column is very versatile. It can also anchor the lifestyles section or float throughout the paper.

Nancy Brewer, assistant editor of the "Lawrence County (TN) Advocate" says she "really appreciates" what Tyree contributes to the paper. Tyree has appeared in Tennesee newspapers continuously since 1998.

Tyree is a lifelong small-town southerner. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications. In addition to writing the weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades," he writes freelance articles for MegaBucks Marketing of Elkhart, Indiana.

Tyree wears many hats (but still falls back on that lame comb-over). He is a warehousing and communications specialist for his hometown farmers cooperative, a church deacon, a comic book collector, a husband (wife Melissa is a college biology teacher), and a late-in-life father. (Six-year-old son Gideon frequently pops up in the columns.)

Bringing the formerly self-syndicated "Tyree's Tyrades" to Cagle Cartoons is part of Tyree's mid-life crisis master plan. Look for things to get even crazier if you use his columns.