Friday, December 30, 2005

Hallelujah everybody say cheese

Merry Christmas from the family.

Had a wonderful visit back east. The weather cooperated with all the driving, although I'll admit that there's something anticlimactic about leaving snow on the ground and arriving in light jacket weather at Christmas. Could've used maybe one more day for visiting old friends and family, but I am enjoying my own house and my own bed and holing up with my own remote and a few days off work.

Still and all, good to see the family and eat their food and have some traditions. I fear this may be the last year for Midnight Mass and opening presents at 1:30 AM. It's a long standing tradition for my family, and we've generally caught a second wind (and a taste for some wine and dessert) by the wee hours... but we had more unanimous trouble getting past the turkey coma than years past.

Somewhere in his homily, my folks' pastor had a great point about the hope which Christmas embodies, and with which Catholics are supposed to live every day, and how that should affect our actions. It's not exactly the warm fuzzies which we prefer at Christmas, but I suppose a good Narnian should play the hand he's dealt.

Unfortunately, as a homilist, he doesn't seem to know how to quit when he's ahead. (I know. Mr. Pot? There's a Mr. Kettle on the line for you.) For rhetorical reasons I can't recall, he felt the need to weigh in on the So-Called War On Christmas. (He's against it. - Calvin Coolige, attrib.)

Now my point of view on the whole thing is pretty simple: Christmas is over commercialized, and that's not news. It's not about what the government does, or doesn't do, and it's not about what language people use to say, really, "have a good week." And it's not run by a big Eastern syndicate. If Christmas is messed up, it's the by the compilation of our own choices, and people who can't keep their noses in their own business.

Once upon a time, we called this kind of thinking "conservative", but I guess we have to call it something else now.

Frank Rich points out that all the warriors for Christmas seem to have something to sell... O'Reilly's ratings, Gibson's book, even Jackie Mason's standup act. One might even extrapolate out to my parent's pastor. (He was selling a message, not asking for cash, but rallying the base to be sure.) Even my own dog's gone commercial.

But I wasn't going to rant. I was going to tell you about my great Christmas. Herself and Meself adopted a new trick for long car rides from our friends Michael and Ann: reading out loud. And what better for Christmas than A Christmas Carol. This is one of only about 3 or 4 books I reread every couple of years. What I love about it is that I "know" the story by heart, and yet it's sprinkled with these gems of writing which seem to seldom make it into the movies or readings.

And so I'll give that great warrior for Christmas the last word:

"Spirit," said Scrooge, after a moment's thought, "I wonder you, of all the beings in the many worlds about us, should desire to cramp these people's opportunities of innocent enjoyment."

"I!" cried the Spirit.

"You would deprive them of their means of dining every seventh day, often the only day on which they can be said to dine at all," said Scrooge. "Wouldn't you?"

"I!" cried the Spirit.

"You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day," said Scrooge. "And it comes to the same thing."

"I seek!" exclaimed the Spirit.

"Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your name, or at least in that of your family," said Scrooge.

"There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the Spirit, "who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us."

A Christmas Carol Stave 3


Blogger Rob said...

Great post, Joe. Reading aloud on road trips is a nice idea. Wife & i were just discussing this last night: we're going to add readings to key points of our holiday next year, i.e. at the end of our dinner, since it's so easy to miss the point of the holiday when we're wrapped up in doing "what we always do" during this week. Thanks for driving the points home.

11:55 AM, December 31, 2005  
Blogger TeacherRefPoet said...

I could read aloud on road trips--until I threw up...

(word verification: gagpywzs. Which sounds like I'd sound after reading in the car...)

1:23 AM, January 02, 2006  

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