I’ve never seen it this bad, this early.
Here in Houston, Christmas decorations in several strip centers went up a week and a half ago…almost a week before we were even hob-nobbin with the goblins of Halloween. Hell, I can take it back even earlier. I was in one of those “Bath and Beyond Your Bed and Broken Hearth” stores and I saw a smallish Christmas display up and priced accordingly and that was in the second week of October.
This extremely premature commercial bombardment of Christmas is, in my opinion, counter productive. Well, for me it is. It makes me want to run in the opposite direction and convert to Shintoism or something. The problem is I love Christmas. It’s a great time of year. The world seems prettier all adorned with even the tackiest of tinsel, but come on!!!! Can’t we wait to encourage some over achieving Reynold’s Aluminum smelter to throw up on trees, displays and store facades at least until Advent???? This “too much, too soon” approach grates on my nerves and completely erodes the special nature of the season.
In fact, it completely removes all traces of what little “santamentality” I’m able to muster.
Tonight, I was flipping through my TV channels and stumbled upon some Christmas music, but not just any Christmas music….this music had genres, the likes I’ve never seen before.
Here they are; varied for your listening pleasure:
- Latinio Navidad
- Soulful Holidays
- Ultra Hip Holidays
- Classical Holidays
- Country Holiday
- Holiday Instrumental
- The Christmas Message
- Holiday Remix
- Blues Holiday
- And The Billy Holiday, which I can only imagine, must be a Yuletide homage to syringes and hard living
Buy this, get that. No home should be without (insert in demand item here). No child can have a truly happy Christmas unless he/she receives…whatever THEE toy is this Christmas.
What is the true meaning of Christmas? I liked O. Henry’s distinct situational irony in “Gift of the Magi”. A poor couple wants to give each other great Christmas gifts. She wants to buy him a pretty chain for his watch, so she cuts her beautiful long hair and sells it in order to buy a silver watch fob. He in turn, sells his watch in order to buy her nice combs for her beautiful long hair.
In “A Christmas Carol”, Charles Dickens’ theme was also spot on with his unabashedly Unitarian approach to morality and ethics. The main character, the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge isn’t condemned for his stingy, cheap skate ways alone. If he were simply a stingy man, whose penny-pinching ways hurt no one but himself, he might be a pitiable character, but one about whom readers do not overly concern themselves. Scrooge’s miserliness, however, is symptomatic for Dickens of the way in which his society ignored, exploited, and abused its poorest and most vulnerable members.
The sickly Tiny Tim comes to mind. You know, I’ve often wondered what it was that made Tiny Tim so ill. He was small, frail, pale and needed a crutch to walk, that is, when he could walk. Otherwise, Daddy Bob would hoist him up on his shoulder and carry the tyke around that way. But what was his actual ailment? I read somehwere that a physician with a literary background once conducted an intense study into Tiny Tims’s illness, analyzing all the symptoms. His conclusion? Tiny Tim had a severe case of “the pathetics”, which was a classic “go to” illness favored by many scribes in Victorian England. Tim was a character written as ill simply for literary effect which in this book’s case, had to play upon our emotions and be curable…as long as Ebenezer threw some post spiritual redemption money at it. Young Tim actually had no nameable disease.
Now, you know.
But Dickens’ sappiness be damned, one of my best memories of this story actually comes in the form of a cartoon from of all characters, Mr. Magoo. Mr. Magoo’s A Christmas Carol was the first animated holiday special ever produced specifically for television. It was commissioned and sponsored by Timex and first aired on NBC on December 18, 1962. The cartoon is written as a Broadway theater play, divided into acts with an actual stage curtain. A long shot includes hand drawn audience members who never move, much less emote or applaud.
Nothing can hurl me face first into the Christmas spirit faster than the holiday TV classics. A Charlie Brown Christmas; How The Grinch Stole Christmas and of course, Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer (the Rankin/Bass ‘stop motion’ version, ONLY) are shows I still try to catch each year, but my sister, Karol and I used to love the Mr. Magoo effort the most. In the mid and late 60’s and early 70’s, the special used to come on random Sundays in December when nothing else was was worth airing. We’ve never seen the hwoit begins; we always seem to tune in when the damn thing is already in progress, but we still love it. I remember always being so moved by one particular scene that included the Ghost of Christmas Past, the one with the little flame above his/her androgynous head. The specter takes Ebenezer back to his tragic childhood–sad, lonely days spent as a sad, lonely orphan.
I was also struck by the fact that the finger belonging to the Ghost of Christmas Future was bony, black and rife with palsy as it pointed toward Ebenezer’s tombstone, indicating his ultimate fate. That image has always stuck with me. And a bit of M.r Magoo trivia, if I may: the voice of Bob Cratchit belongs to Jack Cassidy, father of David; ex-husband of Shirley Jones. Decent set of pipes; didn’t know the cat could sing.
If you really want to get into the Christmas spirit and Clarice, Cindy Lou Who and Charlie Brown, et. al, just aren’t doing it for you, get the DVD of Mr. Magoo’s A Christmas Carol if you can. It’s available through Amazon. It’s good, evocative and wreaks of familiar Christmases past and those of us who are old enough will remember Mr. Magoo, but don’t expect much of the typical Magoo-esque, nearsighted bungling; with few exceptions such as the fact that it’s a musical, this version of “A Christmas Carol” is fairly straight forward and relatively true to its Dickensian script.
But just remember, I submit the above holiday recommendation under protest. The holiday is being shoved down our throats even before the last Three Muskateers bar from Halloween has been eaten. But I guess I have no choice but to be a holiday lemming and do as everyone else and tolerate all the intensely early pre-season falderal, even though it’s early November. I hope by December 25th, you can still handle, for the third month in a row, seeing Jesus in a cradle–with lighting attachment–on sale for $34.99, or a spinning dreidel display (relegated to a back corner at your neighborhood, Anti-Semite Mart) and somehow, not lose your fruitcake or nog…..or kugel, if you’re shopping for the dreidel. How utterly ridiculous! It’s all being shoved down our throats and to that, I say bah humbug, which I’m sure is decorated and on sale somewhere. And I hope that when it comes to sensible spending this Christmas, you’ll follow Ebenezer’s lead. If he were real and living in this economy, he’d be right to be frugal.
In fact, that’s precisely why Scrooge has always been so fond of Rudolph; every buck is deer to him.
What?!?! How dare you turn on me! It’s Christmas for Pete’s sake.