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Chuck's column: Freaking out about Christmas

I love December. I've always loved December. For as long as I can remember. People who know me know I'm a Christmas freak. That shouldn't surprise any of you at this stage of my writing.

On Nov. 1, I begin listening to Christmas music. Early? Me thinkest not. My older brother starts October 1. Now HE has a problem! And at night, upon going to bed, I throw in a DVD that is usually a Christmas special from the 60s when I was just a little boy who believed in Santa.

My mom didn't have the heart to shatter my fantasy with Santa, so she continued to let me believe for as long as I might. It was fifth grade. I was in a piano lesson with Sister Joan of Arc, a nun who would later change her name to Sister Jeanette. (Personally, I preferred the drama of the former name.) I asked Sister about Santa during a lesson because my friends were telling me I was crazy for believing. Common sense told me they were correct. My heart told me not to listen to them. After school that day, Sister walked around the block from the school to the bank where Mom worked, and Sister came clean with what had happened and how she dealt with the situation.

Apparently I put Sister Joan of Arc in a bad position. The poor lady was in a terrible spot. However, she handled it delicately. Her explanation of St. Nick and letting me come to my own conclusion was masterful. We laughed about it years later when I grew older and visited with her.

So, yes, I'm a Christmas freak. I bring my love for the holiday wherever I go because it's who I am. I don't know how else to be. Kids will tell you it's no secret. I just put a picture of the Grinch on my laptop as this month's diversion to the grind of the day. I love it!

I started the holiday assembly here years ago, precisely the year when Eagan High School opened. I had wanted to do it for years before that, but I was granted permission that year. The final 40 minutes of the day before break begins we all go to the gym to celebrate the incredible good feeling in the building that day. There's always a mystery guest. Several years ago, we invited the Red Bull Division of soldiers to be our mystery guests before they were deployed to Iraq. They made for a great bunch of guests. It's something different each year. The kids have come to look forward to this annual event. It's Rosemount High School celebrating Rosemount High School for 40 minutes. It's awesome.

Yesterday, one of my administrators and I did our annual Toys For Tots shopping adventure. She and I take some of the profits from our fall dances and buy enough toys to begin our display in the main hallway. From Dec. 10 through the 14th, the kids in the building are encouraged to bring a toy to their first hour class that week. No contest. All intrinsic motivation. If any of you would like to participate, drop a toy off at the main office! We'd love for you to be a part! In any case, my assistant principal and I have a blast shopping because a) she can make death fun, b) we're both Christmas freaks and c) what's not fun about buying toys for kids who are less fortunate?

So yes. I'm a Christmas freak. And proud of it. Mom made me this way. I can live with it. Forever.