It is one of my favorite times of the year. It is a time when I am truly jolly…maybe almost giddy. If I only had a head of white hair and a white beard, I could be a Santa Claus. I certainly have the girth for it.

I love the yuletide spirit. I get great joy from the bright lights—flickering or not—the smiles on the faces of people on the street and in the malls, children sitting on the lap of Santa Claus, gift giving and parties—Oh, how I love the parties.

It is the one time of the year that I forget that I have relatives that never say a word to me during the year, and probably could care less if I am alive or not, but I find myself sending them a gift, if just to say “Hi, I am still here and I still know you are part of my family.”

And, I love the gift-giving and worry that I might be shorting someone that I love…and want to love me.

I try to be sensitive to the religions of others, but I admit that I don’t know all of the protocols involved with those religious faiths—even the Jewish faith and I have been around close Jewish friends and associates most of my life.

This year my wife and I went to our first Bat Mitzvah in decades. It was for a lovely and wonderful young lady who we hope will soon become a close member of our family. In January, we will go to another for the daughter of one of my associates.

We also attended a Hanukkah brunch this month at the home of someone who worked with me almost 30 years ago at The Atlanta Constitution. It was a reunion of old friends and a celebration of good times past and present.

My cute, and sometimes cherubic, grandchildren Morris (Tripp) and Caitlyn Kelly with Santa at Phipps Plaza.

From there, my wife and I took our daughter, son in-law and two of our grandchildren to visit with Santa Claus at Phipps Plaza. The look on the faces of our grandchildren as they sat together on Santa’s lap brought to life the joy of the yuletide season.

I shot the picture of them at that moment. But I do not need the photograph to feel the joy of that moment.

In one day, within hours of one another, two very different celebrations of the season—but two very joyous and memorable for me.

Now the Scrooge side

So, it is uncommon of me to be the Grinch that stole Christmas…to be a Scrooge. But that is my intent for the rest of this column.

I want to address some of the things that make me angry—not just at this time of the year, but throughout the year. I want to complain. And, my only hope is that by paying attention to my complaints maybe one, two or a few people will change their ways in the New Year and I will be less angry and more blessed.

So, here I go, as Scrooge, with a Yule-time list of some of my complaints.

Ignoring emergency vehicles:

One of my biggest peeves is with people who just simply ignore emergency vehicles on a call. They can be right on the tail of their vehicles with lights flashing and sirens blaring and most drivers are completely oblivious to their presence.

Did you fools forget what you learned in order to get a driver’s license or are you just not aware of what is going on around you? Move over to the right, stupid, and get out of the way. The next time, you may be the one in the ambulance or your home may be on fire. Or, maybe you will be robbed or assaulted by someone.

Stopping for yellow flashing traffic signals:

What is it with people who think a yellow flashing traffic signal means it is a four-way stop? Did you forget the driver’s manual? A yellow flashing traffic signal means proceed with caution through the intersection. A red flashing traffic signal means stop and yield the right of way before proceeding through the intersection.

If you stop for a yellow flashing traffic signal, you may just cause an accident and it could be someone running into the rear of your vehicle. Know what? You deserve it!

Blocking the aisles in stores: I am not sure what the problem is with people who don’t seem to understand the simple etiquette of shopping carts in store aisles. If you park the shopping cart in the middle of the aisle while you look for an item, others cannot get by with their shopping carts. It is especially bad when people park their cart next to in-aisle displays, rather on either side of the displays.

People and their cell phones:

What is it with drivers? Do they have to have a cell phone up to their ear 24 hours a day? Is nothing more important than talking on a cell phone? Maybe God should have created people–especially women–with cell phones growing out of their ears.

I see it every day. Drivers don’t come to a full stop at stop signs because they are talking on a cell phone. They don’t know what is going on around them because they are on a cell phone. People cannot walk through a grocery story without disturbing everyone around them while they talk on a cell phone.

Just the other day, I watched a woman trying to back a van into a tight parking space and she was having trouble because she would not put down her cell phone. What conversation could possibly be so important?

People, show a little courtesy for others.

Going overboard on decorations:

I love holiday decorations as much as anyone. My wife gets irritated with me about how much I love them. But I do get put off by people who go way over the top on decorations and lose sight of what holidays are all about.

Yes, that means the guy off Peachtree-Dunwoody Road in the Historic Brookhaven Neighborhood, who covers about every square inch of his lawn with inflatables for Christmas. It certainly is bright. It certainly draws attention. And, it certainly is too much.

That’s all for now folks. Happy Holidays.

John Schaffner

John Schaffner was founding editor of Reporter Newspapers.