It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

by Brad Nelson11/7/15

You can tongue-lash me all you’d like about bringing Christmas too early. In the malls it starts before Halloween; Thanksgiving becomes an afterthought. But before reading me the Noel Act, let me give you some post-haunted words about Ebenezer Scrooge:

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

I’ve never been as bad as pre-haunted Scrooge…or as good as Bob Cratchit. But I’ve sometimes kept Christmas in my own way…and often as not have neglected it.

This year, Christmas shall not pass unnoticed. The pendulum has swung back from years of neglect. But is it plain sentiment that attracts me? Is it the Holy Ghost (of Christmas past, present or future…Who can tell?), nostalgia, old age (well, at least older), or perhaps commercialism pretending to be something holier than LED lights and sugary treats?

Perhaps Pope Francis is to blame, for it seems some people are not keeping Christianity well, let alone Christmas well. There is opportunity a-knockin’.

There is also the straightforward idea that Christmas should remain in the heart all year long. So what that I stretch it then to two months? (Three if you count January…maybe a week in February, if I’m honest.)

The sad part of this is that Christmas has become expendable for my mother who, through the years, was thumpin’ us over the head mildlly with Jesus every now and then.

"Oh Atom Bomb," as my brother sings it.

“Oh Atom Bomb,” as my brother sings it.

I went up to her house today to see if she had a couple of the traditional family ornaments and learned she had gotten rid of them all. She doesn’t decorate her house at all now. So you get a painful and slightly embarrassing insight into the formative religious reality around these parts. Still, I could have been born into a Jewish or atheist family and missed Christmas altogether. She did bring a wonderful glow to our house all those years when we were growing up. But fires need to be stoked.

Maybe that’s what I’m doing. But at the end of the eve, I don’t know for sure what drives me. I actually blame my brother who started Christmas in October last year by playing some Christmas songs. That caught my ear. Enthusiasm snowballed from there (despite the lack of snow…even a lack of winter, per se, in 2014). The Jollies continue this year. It’s the Spirit of Momentum, if nothing else.

Last year I lit up the office resembling Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Now I’ve doubled-down. In addition to the lights there is (pictured) a little artificial tree with LEDs on it (complete with remote which can change the colors as well as the display modes). Theres’s a snow globe — two, not one. There are assorted Christmas knickknacks, candy canes (large, expensive ones — $2.00 a piece or $1.00 per twirl), a colorful imported knit stocking (imported from somewhere other than China, one hopes), and a few other decorations that remain, for now, visions of things dancing in my head but not yet damaging my credit card.

And, of course, there is Sinatra. Always Sinatra…who will give way a little more to Bing as the 25th approaches. I shall report further as the fever spreads. In the meantime, if this is not politically incorrect or racially insensitive, may all your Christmases be white….or the color of your choice at the press of a button.

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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13 Responses to It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Elizabeth has some decorations that she used to put up, but physical capability is not there. She probably will continue to put up a star in our front window and a wreath on the front door. We might even do our little tour of nearby areas to look at the fancier Christmas set-ups.

    We also have a lot of Christmas music that we can play. In particular, I have 6 CDs (all on MP3 images these days) of novelty songs (one by Paul Shanklin, 3 by the Bob Rivers comedy group, and a pair of Dr. Demento collections). There’s some overlap in them, of course. There are also Christmas movies, which depend on what’s available given that currently our CD/DVD player doesn’t work.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      novelty songs (one by Paul Shanklin, 3 by the Bob Rivers comedy group, and a pair of Dr. Demento collections).

      The Ghost of Christmas Stubborn cannot endorse songs such as “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” or “Walkin’ ‘Round in Women’s Underwear.” And he will never admit to hearing these songs and laughing. These are counter-counter cultural songs (remembering now that we here are the counter-culture). We have our end to hold up.

      I would suggest the Christmas Spirit be kindled by songs such as Bing Crosby’s “That Christmas Feeling” or “Do You Hear What I Hear?”. “Mele Kalikimaka” is, however, acceptable despite its central role in National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation.” (Or maybe because of it.)

      The Ghost does not forbid some commercialization of Christmas but secularization of it is strictly verboten, trespassers will be shot, etc.

      A star in the window and a wreath on the door are enough so that your home may be passed over by the Ghost of Christmas Egging. But I do recommend a decorated tree. Photo proof of your tree, no matter how Charlie-Brown-humble, will be required. The Ghost has already started this competition/exhibition of sorts, and knows that the Stubborn crowd will not shirk from it’s responsibility of “If I show you mine, will you show me yours?” [Every one can email their photo to the Ghost of Christmas Editor whereby he will upload it and email back the code you can insert in your post — here, I guess — that will show your tree.]

      • Timothy Lane says:

        One of the Bob Rivers songs (“Foreigners”) can be considered an attack on illegal immigration, and another (“O Come All you Grateful Deadheads”) an attack on 60s liberals. And Shanklin has his share of conservative songs, of course. Dr. Demento does indeed have “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, but he also has “It’s So Chic to Be Pregnant at Christmas” as well as some parodies of Christmas ommercialization. And Stan Freberg’s “Dragnet Christmas” is very definitely worth listening to. But we do also have plenty of standard Christmas music.

        In addition, I will note that Elizabeth has hosted a table at the St. Matthews Baptist Christmas dinner (as well as singing in the choir for that portion of the even), though increasing physical limitations may keep her from doing so this year.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Hosting a table at a Christmas dinner is way above the call of duty in terms of That Christmas Feeling. I would say that as the infirmities embrace us we take to pen and write a story, a poem, or a short reminisce about things you have done or seen that invoked That Christmas Feeling. I have a story I’ll probably write that is a bit more in tune with Bob Rivers perhaps than Bing. But it was a warm and funny nonetheless (afterward).

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I would suggest the Christmas Spirit be kindled by songs such as Bing Crosby’s “That Christmas Feeling” or “Do You Hear What I Hear?”.

        Christmas season is the time of year when we like continuity in our lives, i.e. tradition.

        The following are albums which we have played play every Christmas for close to thirty years. If you have ever attended a Kung’s Christmas party, you have heard these.

        1. “King’s College Choir, O Come All Ye Faithful”. Very traditional Christmas songs sung by the King’s College Choir of Cambridge University.

        2. “White Christmas”. Played by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra.

        3. “Ray Conniff’s Christmas Album, Here We Come A-Caroling”.

        4. “Merry Christmas”. Bing Crosby’s famous Christmas Album.

        You will note the order is from the most traditional to the most casual. Much more causal than Bing I don’t want.

        That being said, I think one of the best contemporary Christmas songs is “Merry Christmas, Darling” sung by Karen Carpenter who had the most beautiful modern female voice I have ever heard.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Thanks for the suggestions, Mr. Kung. I can see that Ed Asner-ish “Spirit of Christmas” meter from “Elf” already climbing a few notches. I’ll see if I can find some King’s College Choir on the cheap.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            I have to admit that, years ago, we bought a dancing snowman at “Cracker Barrel” playing “Jingle Bell Rock” because Kung Jr. liked it. We still bring it out after Thanksgiving.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Trinkets trinkets, the imagination of commercial man is boundless. I am constantly flabbergasted by the amazing, colorful Christmas trinkets. I impulse-bought a cute little bird bundled up in a scarf and hat. Five bucks. The quality looks good. And that’s sort of my threshold. It can’t look like it will fall apart tomorrow.

              The cost of instituting a family tradition of Jingle Bell Rock was probably well worth the cost. I know there are Christian denominations (JW’s, for instance) that all but forbid the celebration of Christmas. I’m certainly “liberal” when it comes to this. Why not celebrate creativity and abundance? Just don’t get caught in the trap where it isn’t fun, where buying gifts and going to the mall becomes a burden.

              I love looking through all the crap. And much of it is indeed crap. But even some of the crap has charm.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          We have a certain amount of scattered Christmas music (including the Karen Carpenter song), but most of the collections are multi-artist ones. In looking for the ones you list (none of which I found on our MP3 collection), I did come across a Christmas collection from Knightsbridge, though I have no idea what it’s like (though their song list is familiar Christmas songs). Elizabeth has some Christmas CDs (often foreign) that we haven’t copied over to MP3 images.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Elizabeth has some Christmas CDs (often foreign)

            The CD’s I mentioned were bought either in Tokyo or Hong Kong. The record companies are, respectively, 1. Argo, 2. Deutsche Grammophon, 3. CBS Sony and 4. MCA.

  2. Rosalys says:

    If there is one objection I have to starting the Christmas season early, it is that it overshadows Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is perhaps the most Christian holiday we have, being thankful being a prime Christian virtue, which can be celebrated by even the pagans. Perhaps this is one purpose in overshadowing it, because being thankful is also one Christian virtue which even the destroyers of civilization haven’t yet been able to vilify. Maybe Thanksgiving should be incorporated into the Christmas season as a sort of Christmas, Part I.

    Of necessity, Christmas has begun early at my Church as we prepare shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, a wonderful evangelistic ministry of Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse. If your church is not involved in it, I encourage you to try to get your church involved. We have collected stuff all year long and yesterday we began putting them together in shoebox gift boxes. We put together 102 boxes thus far and hope to do another 50 next Sunday, which will get them in before the deadline this year. Link below for more information.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      To put more emphasis on it, I would be okay with having two Thanksgivings in November, Rosalys. Short of that, I think the real problem is there are so few songs from Sinatra or Bing on thankfulness. 😉

      Good luck with the shoeboxes. That sounds like a cool program.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    That Christmas Feeling

    Dennis Prager says his rabbi taught him that there are two fundamental impulses every person must overcome: their propensity to do evil and their propensity to do good. Consider the estimated millions who have died in third-world countries because of the desire to do “good” by banning DDT (a relatively harmless agent we now know). That’s what Dennis is talking about.

    About four years ago, we had a fairly heavy bought of snow. Snow is the cocaine of The Christmas Spirit. It’s white, powdery, and makes everything seem groovy. I must have been high on snow one Christmas and I tried too hard to manufacture That Christmas Feeling.

    I was living in an apartment complex. One morning I noticed one of my neighbors struggling to uncover his car from the snow. Most of the snow had abated at this point, but the side roads were still treacherous, especially if one had a rear-wheel drive rice-burner as this fellow did. He could do nothing but spin his wheels.

    Ah. I saw my “victim,” the future instigator of That Christmas Feeling, the puppet who could play his role and let me play mine. I was consciously thinking none of this at the time, although I think a little leaked through from the subconscious. I was bound and determined to do a Christmas deed and I asked this young fellow (a mid-twenties, ex-Navy guy) if he needed help.

    He told me he needed a ride into town to pick up his medications for his back which he said was killing him. No problem. This was on my way to the office anyway. So I took him to the clinic and waited outside in the car for him to have his prescription filled. Along the way, there and back, he showed me a picture of his sweetheart. They were no longer together but he had high hopes and, if memory serves, he had followed her to try to stay close — even though she was with another guy. It was a warmly pathetic story…one that most guys have in their past.

    Mission accomplished, I took him back home. I think he felt obligated to show some thankfulness so he invited me in to his place. It was a bit of a pigsty. He had several smelly cages of varmints (I forget what type) cobbled around his living room and kitchen. He had almost no furniture. How does one live like this?

    Observing this, it hit me once again the reality that if you delve even lightly into any one life, you’ll find the unexpected and sometimes the slightly tragic. It was then that I understood that his “back pain” was almost certainly an addiction (however he first got there) to pain pills. Mr. Good Samaritan (me) turned out to be little more than an enabler, a pusher. I laughed at my own folly and certainly hoped and prayed that this young fellow would one day get it together.

    Had I been a liberal, there would have been no introspection. I would simply have patted myself on the back as a do-gooder and that would be that. But I realized the story was more complex and my behavior, while benign, was hardly exemplary. I was in the mood to find someone for whom I could be a do-gooder and this ex-Navy guy just happened along. I think Dennis Prager’s rabbi has a point.

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