December Days

by Brad Nelson12/2/17

What are you doing to beat back “Winter Festival”? Do you say a hearty and unabashed “Merry Christmas?”

What are you doing to stoke the Christmas Spirit? Will you be traipsing around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols? What Christmas albums are you listening to in-home or out-of-home perhaps on your mobile device? What Martha Stewart-like projects are you and the family up to? Stringing cranberries and popcorn to decorate the tree? Are you perhaps trying to outdo Chevy Chase with Christmas lighting of your home? What treats, candies, cookies, or drinks do you enjoy making?

How are you beating back the cold, empty, alienated strains of commercialized, materialized, pre-packaged “Winter Festival” in order to bring warmth and meaning to this season? Are you making any effort at all?

I know we have a creative bunch here. Share your stories, adventures, artistry, techniques, and thoughts on enjoying December and this entire Christmas season. Spread the good cheer. No negative vibes (unless you have a good story, even if poignant). No “I can’t do that—who do you think I am, Martha Stewart?” Everyone can do something.

Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.

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33 Responses to December Days

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I’m in a rehab center, and I don’t know if I can be out by Christmas. But I do play Christmas music as well as other music on my laptop this time of year. There isn’t much more than I can do, especially given my current lack of a will to live.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I see you’re playing our home version of “Doom & Gloom.” Here’s something to cheer you up. It’s our official online Advent Calendar. It’s something I found for free online.

      Tomorrow is The First Sunday of Advent. I’ve hung a traditional wreath on the main banner of the web site to fulfill that part of the liturgy. There are always little things we can do to dress things up. But if one is bound and determined to be unhappy, nothing will work.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Elizabeth used to put up an Advent wreath with 4 candles, which she would light each Sunday (she would light one the first week and light an additional one — there is theoretically a specific meaning to each — each week). But that’s down in our old house basement, and there would be no place to put it in our hotel room. I have no idea what if anything her plans are this year. I believe I discussed our Christmas experience last year (not too great, but all right) in last year’s discussions.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I usually get an inexpensive calendar at World Market. It’s filled with cheap chocolate but is a welcome brick in the entire wall of December. For now the virtual one will have to do.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Note that behind the door of December 4 in the StubbornThings Advent Calendar is a nice duet with Bing and (I think) Doris Day.

      • Gibblet says:

        This is the best rendition I’ve heard! It sounds like Bing and Doris really had fun recording the song.

        We had Carols and Communion By Candlelight last night at the Baptist Church. The children acted out the Nativity behind a shadow screen while the Christmas Story was being narrated.
        We sang wonderful Christmas songs, such as “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”, “What Child Is This?”, and “O’ Holy Night”. We also sang more contemporary songs: “Adore Him”, “What A Beautiful Name It Is”, and my solo “You’re Here”.
        It was a wonderful time with my church family, and a great start on celebrating Christmas!

        The weather this week is predicted to be all golden orbs! I’m hoping to bundle up and put some Christmas lights on the trees we can see from our living room.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Back when my father was alive, we would get a tree and decorate it (a collective family effort I still have fond memories of doing), including the standard Christmas lights. We never did anything outdoors. But we would go through the area on Christmas Eve to see what nice displays were up — a practice Elizabeth and I continued for many years, until our health got the better of us.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Those are wonderful memories to have, Timothy.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              We had a lot of bulbs, some relatively ordinary and some a bit fancier. I preferred putting those on. After that was done, and my father had put up the lights, we would put on icicles (foil, of course).

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Tell me you’re so old school that you used to hang tinsel made out of lead.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                I think it was aluminum foil. We bought it each year, and I wasn’t the one buying it.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                My dad, probably in anticipation of the lead tinsel being banned (probably rightly so…it can be absorbed through the skin) stocked up on it before it went off the market so he had a few packets left to trim his antique tree using his collection of antique lights and ornaments. It would not be easy to put my hands on a photo of it, but I’m sure they exist. It was gorgeous.

                But the environmentally-friendly shiny crap will do.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Your delightful enthusiasm and lightness of spirit shine through, Gibblet. Sounds like you had a lot of good spirit. I was hoping people would be open to sharing their moments, ideas, thoughts, etc., as we go forth in the darkest month of all, and yet ironically one of the brightest.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    A funny graphic I happened upon that just seemed to have “December 4th” written all over it:

    Getting Lit

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Does she have the same hairdresser who did Grace Lee Whitney (Yeoman Janice Rand) on the first year of Star Trek? (Rand was an interesting character — a blatant sex object who was also very competent in her duties.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Yes, she could be a dead ringer for Yeoman Rand. The Utopian vision of the Progressives (which Roddenberry was) wasn’t always joyless and sexless. Rand was competent even while doing her job in a miniskirt. Must have been good for morale compared to today’s man-hating feminists who make everyone walk on eggshells around them.

  4. Steve Lancaster says:

    As a Jew I make an effort to wish every progressive/liberal I meet a Heartfelt Marry Christmas. It seems to put them off their feed.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      And a Happy Hanukkah to you, Steve. The first day of Hanukkah is December 13. Feel free to fill us in (if that’s possible or desirable) of what that day means and what the typical activities are.

  5. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    We are decorating our Christmas Tree while listening to Bing’s “Merry Christmas” album as well as choral music sung by King’s College Choir of Cambridge. These will be followed by Ray Conniff’s “Christmas Album.” We will close with “White Christmas” an album cut by the Boston Pops Orchestra directed by Arthur Fielder.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That’s a heavy-hitting lineup, Mr. Kung. What….no “Simply, having a wonderful Christmas time?”. It’s funny, the first search of “Worst modern Christmas songs” brought up this site in which McCartney’s tune is listed as #1 (and not in a good way). Hate the John Lennon song as well. Turn it off every time I hear that dog.

      But I digress. As Michael Palin said in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “This is supposed to be a ‘appy occasion. Let’s not argue over ‘ho killed ‘ho.”

      Let’s just say it doesn’t get much better than Bing for Christmas music and leave it at that.

  6. pst4usa says:

    I just had an occasion to share some thoughts with two kids about Christmas. As it happens, I was at a memorial service for their GG as they put it, (great grandmother). One of the little girls asked me what some of the people meant by she is in a better place, (the girl was 9). So I told her that these folks saying this were with GG at the time she died and that they were praying with her and they knew she would go to Heaven because they knew she had asked Jesus into her life long ago and she would be with Him. I asked her if she knew why we have such a big celebration for Christmas? No, she said, but she loved it. Well said I, Christ is the first word in Christmas and we celebrate His birth because He is God’s son, and He came into the world 2000 years ago, so that we would be saved. Christmas is a big deal, for her, for the rest of us and for her GG because of what He did for us.
    I am not sure she had heard this before, (probably from GG, but this event made it real), and I hope the kids parents don’t trash everything I said to her, but the seeds were planted and I will trust in Him to nurture and care for them.

    Have a very Merry Christmas everyone.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Nice story, Pat. I would imagine these days it’s difficult for things to get passed down directly from the GG’s or GF’s to the GD’s.

      • pst4usa says:

        Thanks Brad, but I was just trying to answer what I was doing to beat back the “Winter Festival”, and this happened this week end, so I thought it fit the question, and this is a very condensed version. these kids did not live that close to the Great Grandmother so they may not have gotten to see her enough for it to have been passed down.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Pat, passing down inherited wisdom via channels deeper than either Facebook or Jimmy Kimmel is more than enough cause for holiday warm-fuzzies. You have fuzzed your way to a good one.

  7. Timothy Lane says:

    I will briefly discuss one of my gift-giving experiences from the early 1970s. My sister Theodora and I went in together on family gift-giving — she had the ideas of what to give, and I had the money to pay for them. I don’t remember most of them, except that we gave my Aunt Erma a copy of Pauline”s, the memoir of a noted madam from Bowling Green (the city is the much-praised subject of the song “Kentucky Sunshine”). It seems to have worked well, but next year she was in Atlanta, and has been there ever since.

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I recently watched Ron Howard’s “Grinch” starring Jim Carrey. Carrey has some hilarious schtick. My favorite is when, in the guise of Santa Claus and in the midst of plundering Whoville of all its Christmas paraphernalia, little Cindy Lou Who is woken up by the ruckus. The Grinch is a good liar, of course, and makes some excuse for why he is taking the family’s Christmas tree.

    Little Cindy Lou Who is fooled by the fib and then asks the Grinch a question not glib: “Mr. Grinch, what is Christmas all about?” The Grinch loses his cool and his friendly Santa persona and yells “Revenge!” And then quickly changes it and says with his termite-infested smile, “presents.”

    Little Cindy Lou Who, who is having a crisis of conscience about Christmas, replies in a disappointed manner, “Ohhhh…I thought so.”

    This is basically a secular Christmas show despite the word “Christmas” central to it. That is, it’s a winter festival show where the point is social “niceness” instead of about getting and receiving presents. And I suppose that’s about as ambitious as most of us can hope to be this time of year, although there is much to be said about receiving a welcome and useful gift.

    What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?

    • Timothy Lane says:

      In the original animated version, the Grinch tells Cindy Lou Who that there’s some sort of defect or damage to the Christmas tree, so he’s taking it to his workshop to fix it and then return it. He then gives her a glass of water and tucks her back into bed. She doesn’t ask him what the purpose of Christmas is, perhaps because the Whos’ singing of Christmas gives a good hint that the answer isn’t presents or feasting (even if they do like those) — which is why at the end they sing despite losing all their Christmas decorations and presents, and all their food.

  9. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Still one of my favorites:


    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Great cartoon. Reminds me of Larson.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, that could make future Christmases a bit more difficult.

      Incidentally, TCM has the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol, with Reginald Owens as Scrooge (and in which he fires Bob Cratchit on the way home for hitting him with a snowball, knocking off his hat — and charges him an extra schilling because his hat is worth more than a week’s pay for Cratchit), at 12:15 pm Saturday,

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