["Merry Christmas" from my front door to your refrigerator door.]
In the style of Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends’ “Sex, Tattoos & Violence R Us” series, I have decided to post my Christmas blog bit in one big, heterogeneous chunk; we’ll call it “A Christmas Conglomeration”. So here goes. Put on your Santa hat and don’t drink too much Christmas spirits or you won’t be able to keep up with the quick subject shifts:
WHAT I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS
All I want for Christmas is my . . . 15 minutes of fame.
THE CHRISTMAS CURSING
Newspaper journalist, Dave Walker, once wrote, "In countless homes around the world, the Christmas season doesn't officially start until Linus shuffles to center stage, raises a finger and says, ‘Lights, please’.”
That may be true, but for about 7 years prior to 2002, the Christmas season for me officially started when I cursed the man who had lived in my house prior to my moving in. You see, every year I would string the Christmas lights on the outside of my house along the same hooks that the former owner had installed. I had never met that guy, but I still cursed him.
I would be lying on my stomach on the roof and trying to attach the strands of Christmas lights onto the hooks that the former owner had inserted underneath the roof’s overhang. It was nearly impossible to see the hooks, all I could do was feel for them with my fingers underneath the roof.
But that son-of-a-gun, rather than installing the hooks so they were all facing one way, he had put them in facing two different directions. Sometimes it took me a full minute to “feel” which way the hook faced, before I could even begin the process of trying to attach the lights while I was lying upside down and hanging slightly off the roof.
So every year I’d find myself in that precarious position, feeling around for the hook and trying to determine which way it faced, and at some point I would always say something like, “Damn that guy who put these hooks in!”
And then one year it dawned on me how funny it was that, for me, the Christmas season “officially” began the moment I cursed the former owner of my house – whoever and wherever he was. I moved into my present home in 2002, and I haven’t cursed that poor guy since then. I wonder if he misses it.
A CHRISTMAS GREETING FROM THE SO-CALLED "DEAD"
In an older blog bit here at ‘Stuffs’ titled “Home In Heaven But I Ain’t Got No Cigarettes”, I told y’all how my Pa, who passed away in 1996, has sometimes communicated or made contact with me from the “beyond”, and usually by way of Nat King Cole songs. Well, I’m not going to retell that whole story here, but if anyone wants to revisit it, I will provide a link to that old blog bit at the bottom of this one.
I’m just going to assume you know the story about my Pa (wherever he lives now) and our Nat King Cole connection and relate to you one of the communications I received one Christmas Day years ago. But first, I’ll give you a few examples of how this thing has worked in the past. These illustrations are taken from my old Spiritual Journal where I used to record my dreams and meditation experiences:
On February 17, 1997, I had gone to the meeting of a spiritual study group I was then a member of. On the way to the church, for some unknown reason, I felt compelled to change the radio station I had been listening to in my truck for at least three continuous months. I switched from KAHM (elevator “muzak” broadcasted from Prescott, Airheadzona) to KOY (a Phoenix station that plays old standards and big band music).
At the conclusion of our 'A Search For God' meeting, we all did our customary group meditation practice. While I was meditating, I suddenly saw very vividly in my mind a vision of me standing in one spot with some streams of very sparkling powdery substance shooting up around me and then falling softly and glitteringly down around and over me. I mentally asked myself, “What is this? What is this stuff?” And immediately I heard my inner voice answer the question: “Stardust”.
I had no idea what any of that meant – why I had seen it, why I had heard my voice call it “Stardust”. But the group meditation brought our meeting to an end and we all said our goodbyes for another week and then walked to our vehicles in the church parking lot. The moment the engine of my truck turned over – the truck that had actually belonged to my Pa before he passed away – the radio came on and a song was playing. I drove for a couple of blocks before it hit me like a ton of bricks: The song that was playing was “Stardust” and the singer was Nat King Cole!
Here’s another similar experience copied word-for-word from my Spiritual Journal:
May 31, 1997 – Had another experience with Pa, involving the radio. I was in his truck and listening to something on the radio when I suddenly felt I would put on his old station KOY with the big band music. Just before I changed it, this popped into my mind: “If Nat King Cole is singing when I change this station then Pa is with me NOW!” And sure enough, I changed the station just in time to catch about the last minute or so of Nat King Cole singing “That Sunday, That Summer”.
OK, this next one was a bit different:
Monday, February 26, 2001 – For 2 or 3 weeks I had intended to rent the movie, “The World According To Garp”, to see if I still hated it as much as I did when I saw it in the theater in 1982. [By the way, I did!]
But the day before, on Sunday, during my meditation session, I had suddenly heard a voice in my mind say loud and clear, “I will see you Monday”.
I had no idea WHO would see me Monday – the following day. I didn’t know what this meant at all, but due to the clarity and the confidence of the voice, I believed I was destined to have some mystical experience the next day, that I was perhaps going to have some sort of encounter with God.
For about the first two-thirds of the following day, I was paying close attention to everything that was occurring and being said around me, because I was “watching” for something strange, for something bizarre, for something unexplainable to happen. But gradually the cares and the business of the day overcame my attention to details and the “event” I was waiting for – whatever that “event” would turn out to be - just kind of slipped from my mind and I forgot all about it.
Then later that night, I finally got around to renting “The World According To Garp” and was absolutely flabbergasted when in one scene, the Garp character (played by Robin Williams) turns on his automobile’s radio and the song that plays is "There Will Never Be Another You" sung by Nat King Cole.
Evidently my Pa knew, while I was meditating, that the next day – Monday – I was finally going to get around to renting that movie I had intended to watch for weeks, and he also knew that there was a Nat King Cole song used in the movie’s soundtrack, and so, in a sense, he was able to say to me, “I will see you Monday.”
And now we’ve reached the Christmas story:
On Christmas Day in 2004, brother Nappy and I took our usual Christmas drive. It is a tradition that our Pa started when Nappy and I were young. Pa would go on a meandering drive through his old boyhood neighborhood and we would all keep our eyes open to see how many kids on brand new bicycles we could spot. Although my Pa has been gone now for 15 years, Nappy and I keep this tradition alive. It started in Southern California, but it continues today in Phoenix, Arizona.
Well, for some perfectly vague reason, I had an overwhelming sense that Nappy and I were going to somehow be contacted by our Pa while we went on our Christmas Day Drive in 2004. I can’t explain why I felt this so strongly, but it’s just something that I “knew” at some deeply intuitive place in my mind, and I told it to my Brother. I said, “Nappy, mark my words – while we are out on this drive, Pa is going to contact us somehow. We are going to hear from him in some way before we get home from this drive.” Nappy was kind of skeptical, as he should have been. I mean, how in the world would I know this, right?
So, we went on our drive to and through the downtown Phoenix area and I had the radio on. I figured that some Nat King Cole song would play – most likely his famous rendition of “The Christmas Song” – which, of course, wouldn’t really mean it was a “contact” from our Pa on “the other side” since one can almost expect to hear Cole’s “The Christmas Song” played on the radio on any Christmas Day.
At any rate, I continued to insist that we were going to hear from Pa before we got home, even right up to the point where we were driving down our own street after the Christmas Drive of perhaps an hour.
I pulled up into our driveway, Nappy and I got out of the car and entered our house, and that's when Nappy said, “Well, I guess you were wrong.”
“Yeah,” I conceded. “I was wrong. That’s weird, because I was sure we were gonna hear from Pa. Oh well.”
I then went off to do something in the living room while Nappy casually picked up the newspaper from a table and pulled out the crossword puzzle section. At one time, Nappy used to do the newspaper crossword puzzles on a regular basis, but he had gradually lost interest in them and hadn’t worked a crossword puzzle for a couple of years. But now, all of a sudden, he inexplicably felt like he wanted to do a crossword puzzle.
Nappy wasn’t working on that puzzle for more than five minutes when I heard him make an exclamation of astonishment and then he hollered for me to come into the room he was occupying.
Nappy thrust the newspaper’s crossword puzzle into my hand and said, “Sixty, DOWN.”
I looked at the clues. Number Sixty, DOWN: “Mona Lisa” singer.
The answer? “NAT”.
“IT’S A WONDERFUL GAME” PLAYED MERELY FOR LIGHTHEARTED AMUSEMENT [YEAH, RIGHT!]
Every Christmas Eve our family forms teams (except Nappy usually has no partner) and we play the 'It's A Wonderful Life' Trivia Game. It's all in fun, and no one takes it too seriously. Here's a list of the past winners:
THE 365 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
For decades it has been my belief that everyone ought to leave at least one Christmas related item out in plain view all year long, just to remind oneself of Christmas and the good times that are coming – even when Christmas seems so far away because it’s August and it's 112 degrees in Phoenix, Airheadzona, and Christmas seems like an impossibility.
I always leave out a beautiful pink glass vase filled with Christmas tree bulbs, which had belonged to my Aunts Marg and Helen. It was something that they too left on display throughout the year. And I also leave out a little pin that hangs above my monthly calendar. The pin is made of pewter and was formed to resemble a snowy hill scene with a church in the background, and in the foreground evergreen trees and a horse-drawn sleigh containing a man wearing a Santa hat and transporting a fresh-cut Christmas tree.
I frequently shop at a place called Sprouts Farmer’s Market. Last year, when they took down their Christmas decorations at Sprouts, evidently someone forgot to remove the metallic mistletoe that had been placed on some weather vane type of article that hangs above the deli counter. All year, I have looked at that mistletoe – even in the dead of Summer – and wondered what the Sprouts employees will think when they go to decorate for Christmas 2010 and discover that the mistletoe had been up there all year long.
Well, I just came from Sprouts an hour ago, and the mistletoe now fits in perfectly with the rest of the store’s decorations. But I’m wondering if they will again forget to take it down after the New Year. Or, does someone at that store feel the way I do about “The 365 Days Of Christmas”, and was the mistletoe left up deliberately? And if so, will it again remain in place throughout another Airheadzona Summer? We shall see . . .
A GOLDEN MOMENT AT THE GOLDEN CORRAL (Or, BIG BOY'S BREAKFAST BREAK)
On Sunday, December 19, 2010, my Brother Nappy and I went to breakfast at the all-you-can-eat Golden Corral restaurant in Glendale, Airheadzona. While I was waiting to get to the scrambled eggs bucket, I noticed that at the front of the slow-moving line was a fat, round, old fella with white hair and a long, white beard. So, after I had loaded my plate, I sprinted to the front of the line, blocked the old fella's way, and said to the Santa Claus-wannabe, “Shouldn’t you be at the Workshop? Isn’t this your busy time of year?”
He just laughed and said, “No, no!”
Y’all think I’m kiddin’, don’tcha? Ya think this scenario didn’t really happen, don’tcha? Think AGAIN! Every word of it is true. Only the location has been changed to protect the innocent. Well, no, actually, come to think of it... even the location is accurate. No one is INNOCENT, and Bigboy should have been at the Workshop rather than the breakfast line. Does he understand how few days are remaining before Christmas? There will be plenty of time for him to feed his face later, but right now, he has worried children with empty stockings to think about! Selfish Santa!
LITTLE GIRL AND LITTLE BOY LOST
I’m guessing it was about five years ago that I created a multi-part guide for the Amazon.com website illustrating all of the funny flaws that occur in the famous TV Christmas specials like ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’, ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’, ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’, ‘Frosty The Snowman’ et al.
I thought the guide I had put together was so Full O’Fun that it was destined to become hugely popular. Well, guess what. It just sat there and was hardly noticed at all. I really scratched my head over that for a long time. I was slightly disappointed by the lack of reception that guide experienced, but I was even more puzzled than disappointed.
Then in late November of 2008, I edited my “Find Flaws In The Animated Christmas Classics” and posted it here at ‘Stuffs’ under the new title “Ho!-Ho!-Oh! Merry Christmus!” [See the link at the bottom of this blog bit.]
To my greater surprise, the blog bit STILL met with a very 'Ho-Hum' reaction. I have contemplated this situation periodically and have finally come to realize what is wrong here.
Actually, there is NOTHING wrong with the guide/blog bit. It is well put together with an inspired sense of fun. The problem is not the idea nor the way it was executed; the problem is with YOU, the people! It finally dawned on me that the reason no one is interested in an examination of the many fun flaws to be found in the Classic animated Christmas TV specials that most of us grew up with is that most of us “grew up”. Very few people from my generation still watch those programs every year like my brother Napoleon and I do.
That’s the answer, isn’t it? Y’all grew up and lost that little boy or little girl inside you. You left your little inner child back at the crossroads of adulthood and went on without it, didn't you? You all became – [GASP!] – I hate even to say it, but . . . you all became “adults!” This I find to be the saddest thing of all. I’m not disappointed in you, I just feel sad for you. Evidently you all “passed the borders of mystical, merry Toyland and now you can never return again.”
My heart breaks for you people. Your little girl or little boy got lost and you journeyed on without her or him. It makes me wanna cry. I’d be willing to bet that the only one of my friends who still watches all of the Classic animated TV specials every Christmastime, like Nappy and I do, is my old cartoonist friend, Lonnie Millsap. It’s plain to see that a cartoonist would still have the “little child” inside him. But the rest of you folks, you’re now “big people” and your ears got hard and now you can’t hear the laughter and the music emanating from Toyland. I’d stay here and try to make you feel better about this sorry situation but I’ve got a Christmas stocking to go hang up by my fireplace in the hope that Saint Nicholas soon will be here.
When I fall in love with a song the first time I hear it, that is the rare exception, not the rule. I generally need to hear a song a few times before I really pick up on all of its elements and come to wrap my mind around its melody and the nuances.
Let me give you an example:
I can’t recall the exact year I first heard Brenda Lee’s modern Christmas classic “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”, but I’m going to say it was circa 1986. I was in Santa Monica, it was late morning and I had the radio on, listening to Christmas music while driving Eastbound on Ocean Park Boulevard. The first time I heard “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” I determined that it was absolutely the worst Christmas song ever recorded. I mean, I HATED it with a capital “H”.
Maybe two weeks later, I again heard it played on the radio, and I thought to myself: There’s that Christmas song again that I hate so much!
Another week passed before I encountered the song for a third time, and this time I thought: Well, maybe it’s not quite that bad.
The very next time I heard Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” I thought to myself: Dang! I gotta find out who does that song because I need to buy a copy of it!
OK, now that I’ve discussed a Christmas song that I came to love, let me move on to some Christmas songs I never learned to enjoy.
In The Arizona Republic newspaper’s ‘Arizona Living’ section of the December 8, 2003 edition, there was an article by Barbara Yost titled “Yule-Tired Carols”. The topic of the article was “Our List Of 12 Worst Christmas Songs”. Twelve citizens and local celebrities were asked to name their most hated Christmas songs. I saved the article because I thought a few of the responses were funny. Below are some excerpts:
Pat George, reindeer rancher, owner of Grand Canyon Deer Farm near Flagstaff:
Jingle Bells, by the Singing Dogs.
“The barking dogs singing Jingle Bells. It scares the reindeer. They don’t like barking dogs. They go after them. It drives me crazy, too. That’s the problem – they play it over and over. I love dogs, but they’re not made to sing Christmas songs.”
Sterling Beeaff, composer, music director of Classical music station KBAQ (89.5 FM):
Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas In Hawaiian), by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters.
“There’s a song Bing Crosby sings, Mele Kalikimaka. That’s the height of Christmas kitsch. It’s corny. If you were a contemporary when that came out, I’m sure I’m alienating somebody. I’m a nut for Christmas. I like almost everything. I don’t like covers of Christmas songs. One of the worst I’ve heard is Neil Diamond singing Here Comes Santa Claus in this baritone. What’s the point?”
Jeani Garrett, owner of Arizona Covey in Phoenix; keeper of partridges, turtle doves, French hens and calling birds:
We Wish You A Merry Christmas, by Stu Goldberg.
“I like Twelve Days Of Christmas. It’s one of those songs that there’s no escaping at Christmas, so I put alternative words to it. I don’t like that one with figgy pudding. I despise that. It’s ridiculous in this day and age. We don’t even know what those things are. My Grandmother was English, and she said those things are disgusting.”
Charley Farley, karaoke jockey:
Frosty The Snowman, by Jimmy Durante.
“I’ve heard it done poorly (as karaoke) so many times. They think they know the song and then they forget the words. They try to keep up. It’s a fast song, and they’re half lit up and they try to do the thumpity-thump-thump.”
Lyda Mitchell, matriarch of Tim Mitchell Christmas Trees:
Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, by Elmo And Patsy.
“One that seems to be the most awful, terrible, is that one about Grandma got run over by a reindeer. We don’t want Grandma to get run over. I’m the grandma!”
Santa Claus (aka Paul Raines who plays the part of Santa):
“Who ever thought up Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer? Never happened. I was there. Ho, ho, ho! She stepped out, but we avoided her. Ho, ho, ho!”
Other songs that got mentioned in the article were: ‘I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas’; ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’; ‘Jingle Bell Rock’; ‘The Twelve Days Of Christmas’; ‘Christmas Don’t Be Late (The Chipmunk Song)’; ‘Feliz Navidad’; and ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’.
The other day, I asked my friend The Flying Aardvark to name her most despised Christmas songs and the first one that came to her mind was ‘Jingle Bells’ by The Singing Dogs.
I don’t exactly hate The Singing Dogs, but hearing them bark ‘Jingle Bells’ once every three years or so would be plenty enough times to satisfy this boy. As for me, I really like most Christmas songs, but I greatly despise ‘Santa Baby’ by Eartha Kitt. Its cloying faux-sexuality and Eartha’s sex kitten affectation makes me ill. I just want that song to go away!
Another song I dislike almost as much as ‘Santa Baby’ is the aforementioned ‘Mele Kalikimaka’. Just say, “No!” to Mele Kalikimaka. And finally, there’s ‘Up On The Housetop’. It’s so sing-songy and nursery-rhymish that I find it nearly intolerable when sung by kids, and TOTALLY intolerable when an adult sings it.
How 'bout you? Any particular Christmas songs that, to your ears, are like fingernails on a chalkboard?
PLEASE MAKE A WISH FOR TINY TIM
Have a great Christmas season.
~ Arlee Bird; December 17th, 2010
Are we dropping a coin for Tiny Tim this year?
~ Mr. Sheboyganboy Six; Dec. 17th, 2010
Oh, how I love my friends! They remember our tradition about making a wish for Tiny Tim and they mention it even before I do!
You guys are THE GREATEST! Thanks!
Yes, let’s all remember Tiny Tim again this year. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this Christmas Day tradition, HERE’S THE GIG:
“MOST OF ALL, I’D LOVE TO SEE CHRIST COME BACK TO CRUSH THE SPIRIT OF HATE AND MAKE MEN PUT DOWN THEIR GUNS. I’D ALSO LIKE JUST ONE MORE HIT SINGLE.”
We are going to help Tiny Tim get a second hit song so he will be posthumously removed from the One-Hit Wonder category. Are you aware that experiments have been conducted where large numbers of people have visualized the same result and that result has come to pass? All we need to do is get enough individuals to drop a coin into any body of water on Christmas Day (even just a penny in a glass of water will work) and wish for Tiny Tim to score another hit song, and it will happen. One way or another, it WILL happen! Popular music’s all-time greatest underdog, Tiny Tim, will have another hit song.
As far-fetched as all this seems, it IS going to happen. It was impossible that Tiny Tim would score a major hit song at all – especially with something as unlikely as “Tip-Toe.” But since the impossible has already occurred, the second hit should come even easier. After all, it’s not impossible anymore - we’ve seen it happen before.
“I believe in keeping the Christ in Christmas.”
There’s still time for you to get in on the ground floor of this experiment. But if you don’t contribute a penny and your thoughts, think how you’re going to feel when Tiny gets Miracle Number 2 (a second hit song), and everyone’s yakkin’ about it, but you won’t be able to honestly say, “An’ I he’ped!”
“Do your best and pray for the rest.”
So far, seven good-hearted individuals have joined in on this new Christmas Day tradition by making a wish for a second Tiny Tim hit song. We’re waiting for our eighth participant. Why shouldn’t that be YOU?
Make a wish for Tiny Tim this Christmas Day and then tell me about it, and I will add your name to ‘The Tiny Tim Wish Fulfillment Team’ roster. [Click this link: Join ‘The Tiny Tim Wish Fulfillment Team’.]
“Never hit your grandma with a shovel –
Merry Christmas, Y’all!
~ Stephen T. McCarthy
Ho!-Ho!-Oh! Merry Christmus! [Find Flaws In The Classic Animated Christmas TV Specials]
“Home In Heaven But I Ain’t Got No Cigarettes”