Category Archives: Christmas

Roger Answers Your Questions, Scott and Jaquandor

Queries from veteran Roger queriers,

First up is the noble Scott:

Is there a team you are rooting for to win the Super Bowl?

Besides the Giants, who just don’t deserve it this year (41-9 loss to Carolina yesterday?), gotta be the Saints. Partly it a parochial hope that a Super Bowl appearance will once again point out the aftermath of Katrina and how much is yet undone in the recovery. Also, can’t help but think it would give the city a real boost; they’ve already postponed some Mardi Gras events in anticipation of getting to the big game. And yes, I thought losing to the Cowboys was probably a good thing; get the loss out of their system. (So naturally they lose to Tampa Bay yesterday.) The perfect season was a curse for the Patriots a couple seasons back, so the loss to the Jets – who are still in playoff contention – theoretically will help the Colts. Or not.

What is your favorite Christmas family tradition?

I’m still grasping at any kind of tradition. We had a tree the last three years, but not the previous two. What we eat varies; this year it was lasagna! And while I sing on Christmas Eve, it’s hardly a FAMILY tradition, since my wife and daughter weren’t there. In fact, I didn’t see my daughter at all on Christmas Eve, though I did talk with her twice on the phone. The tree decorations I used to have seem to have disappeared. So it’s not so much tradition; it’s jazz improv, and it’s all good.

Do you do a lot of decorating inside and outside your house for the holidays?

Outside, not at all. Inside, the Christmas cards – and we got a LOT of Christmas cards this year, more than ever – go around the entryway to our living room. In fact we had so many, we put a few on the other side, the entryway back into the hallway. There’s the tree. There’s red garland on the railing heading upstairs. We do have a creche.

The daughter constructed a snowman from paper, which we hung up. She also made some drawings that got put around the house.

What Christmas gift made the most lasting impression on you?

That would be the Beatles in Mono box set that I got in…2009. It wasn’t just that I got the music; it was something I wanted and Santa delivered that singular package that was more than Santa is inclined to spend on a one item.

What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child?

Seriously, a Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army); I played with that forever and STILL turned out as a pacifist. Tom Hanks got one as a kid, he once told Leno.

Although the family getting a color TV in 1969, when I was 16, was huge, too; we literally saw the world in a different way. Watching the Wizard of Oz the next year, in particular, was a revelation; a “horse of a different color”, indeed.

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Roger!

You too, Scott.

The best of the west, western NYS, that is, Jaquandor asks:

Do you cook? If so, what? Do you have a favorite ethnic cuisine? If so, what?

I did cook. And I was functional, not inspirational, at things like chicken. But I don’t particularly enjoy it, Carol’s better at it, and I get home close to 6:30 pm. I tend to make eggs, pancakes, oatmeal, grilled cheese sandwiches, those kinds of things on the weekends.

My favorite ethnic cuisine is lasagna, which I used to make in the winter, though the recent Christmas meal in fact was made by the wife and mother-in-law; I shredded the mozzarella. I also used to bake, but likewise Carol’s more ept and I, rather inept. Damn, I just remember a time I confused baking powder with baking soda in a pancake recipe; it was AWFUL.

And do you have a strong opinion one way or the other on Governor Paterson?

Notice that David Paterson’s positives have gone from the low 20s to the mid 30s. Still not great, and still losing to Andrew Cuomo by 40 points, should the attorney general run in a primary against him. But perhaps there is a recognition that he’s at least TRYING to balance the budget, whereas the state legislature is unable/unwilling to. I wonder if those television ads, like this one are having an effect.

I have a question for you; do you think those Saturday Night Live parodies hurt him with the electorate? I’ve been under the impression that the NYS voters and SNL watchers are not that linked, but I could be wrong.

I can/do argue with some of his choices; his cuts to education and libraries seem particularly short-sighted. But I haven’t written him off politically, especially if Rick Lazio, who ran a TERRIBLE campaign against Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate race in 2000, turns out to be the GOP nominee, rather than Rudy Giuliani.


Christmas Meme, Part 2

Grade/Rate Holiday Movies A – F

91. A Christmas Story. B+

92. How The Grinch Stole Christmas? A+ if we’re talking Chuck Jones. Never saw Ron Howard’s.

93. The Santa Clause? Have I ever seen any of these all the way through?

94. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer? B

95. Frosty The Snowman? B-

96. Home Alone? B-

97. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? D-

98. Elf? Didn’t see

99. Miracle on 34th Street? A

100. A Charlie Brown Christmas? A+

Christmas At My House…(one or the other)

111. Tree is fake/real?

Real, optimally. Though in fact we had no tree when Lydia was nine months old because we were too tired to bother. We didn’t have one when she was 21 months because we feared she’d pull it down.

112. Tree is under/above 4′?

About 5′ most years, though this years is 7′.

113. Open presents Christmas Eve/Day?

Christmas Day. Though there may be stockings opened on Christmas Eve.

114. House/entire yard is decorated?

We don’t decorate the outside.

115. Amount of presents under the tree?

Very few before Christmas Eve.

116. Snowman is a male/female?

Lydia made one Sunday. Male.

117. Go for Santa/Jesus?

I’m not sure what that means.

118. Homemade/delivered/takeout Christmas dinner?

Usually homemade if I’m not making it; otherwise, takeout.

119. Bedtime is before/after midnight?

10 pm most nights.

120. Wake-up is before/after 7am?

Probably 5:30 now. When I was a kid, Dad pushed the wakeup time for the household later and later, from 7 when I was 7 to 9 when I was 16.

121. Go/don’t go to church on Christmas?

Don’t, generally, though I did once or twice recently. Christmas Eve, I go to, usually sing at. Even in my non-church-going phase, I’d go to Christmas Eve, usually a Catholic service. And I’ve never been Catholic.

122. Pray & sing Happy Birthday/do nothing before bed?

I sometimes pray. But “Happy Birthday, Jesus” is hysterical! Jesus almost certainly was a Pisces; seriously.

123. Do shopping before/after Thanksgiving?

If I’m inspired, I shop before Thanksgiving. I was shopping this Sunday past, so that should tell you something.

124. Low-key/over the top decorations (inside and out)?


Have You Ever?

125. Built a snowman?
Of course.

126. Heard Santa’s sleigh?
Yes. Must have been a recording. Wasn’t it?

127. Seen Santa & Rudolph in the sky?
Well, no, except in my dreams.

128. Sat on Santa’s lap?
I know I have. There’s even a picture somewhere. But I don’t really have any memories of it.

129. Shoveled the driveway/sidewalk?
Ugh, yes.

130. Made snow angels?

131. Built a fort/igloo?

132. Wrote a Christmas list?

133. Wrote a letter to Santa?

134. Left cookies/milk for Santa & reindeer?
Yes, ever since we had a child. But remember doing so when I was a child.

135. Caught a snowflake on your tongue?
Of course.

136. Went caroling?
Used to do it every year for about a decade and a half.

137. Got hurt during the winter season?
Just the frostbite.

138. Gone ice skating/sledding?
I’m lousy at skating. Sledding I did regularly as a kid.

139. Kissed under a mistletoe?

140. Experienced/saw a miracle happen?

141. Get everything you wanted for Christmas?
Yes, but my needs are limited.

142. Cooked/baked?
There was a period that I did both, mostly when I was single.

True Or False

181. You prefer to stay inside where it’s warm?
Truer words were never spoken.

182. You’ve given something (or $) to charity?
Very True.

183. You spent more than what people spent on you?
Almost always true.

184. You like to take your time opening presents?
True, and try to apply the brakes to the child.

185. The thing you want most this year costs $100+?
True, but that’s MOST unusual.

186. You expect to get more than 10 presents this year?

187. You’re a Scrooge/Grinch?
I don’t think so.

188. Christmas = snow?
True, lightly on Christmas Eve.

189. You know the lyrics to more than 25 Christmas songs?
Oh, indeed true. I love Christmas music. I have three or four BOOKS.

Grab Bag

190. Three best things about Christmas?
The music, the decorations, the possibilities.

191. Worst Christmas song?
I especially hate “Dominick the Donkey”.

192. If you were a Christmas character, who would you be?
Bob Cratchit.

193. What type of decoration should stop being made?
Any that are poisoning the environment.

194. Tastiest holiday treat?
Sugar cookies.

195. Favorite pop culture Christmas icon?
I like Charlie Brown and his little tree.

196. Know how to make cookies/brownies/cake from scratch?
I did; haven’t done it in so long, though.

197. Ever cut your mouth on a candy cane/candy?
Yes, as a kid.

198. What other culture would you like to experience Christmas with?
Interested to do so in the Southern Hemisphere.

199. What kind of pattern/pictures do you like on your wrapping paper?
Wrapping paper is a real sore point. I used to think that it was dumb. I would just as soon use the funnies from the Sunday newspaper, but was mocked for it. Now it’s rather ahead of the curve environmentally. So I REALLY don’t care.

200. Will you make a Christmas picture for your blog/website/profile?
Nah, I’m a lazy bum.


Christmas Meme, Part 1

There is this meme that SamuraiFrog did. Then Jaquandor found some more. But neither of them are as long as this one. So I’m splitting it; half today, half tomorrow. OK, with the skips, it’s not really half. And I’m not renumbering this puppy.

Favorite Christmas…

01. Non-Jesus-related song?
“Good King Wenceslas”.

02. Jesus-related song?
The Coventry Carol; it’s on A Very Special Christmas #1. But then there are all the songs that I sing in choir. The first part of Handel Messiah. Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child. Almost anything in another language, from Adeste Fideles to Stille Nacht. And the Shepherd’s Farewell by Berlioz awes me every verse.

03. Santa-related song?
“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, the Jackson Five version.

04. Fictional character?
Ebeneezer Scrooge.

05. Dinner’s main course?
Variable. Can be turkey, ham or something else altogether.

06. Dinner’s dessert?
Also no tradition here.

07. Scent (pine, gingerbread, candles…)?

08. Animated movie?
I can’t think of a Christmas-related animated movie I need to see every year. I did see A Charlie Brown Christmas. Oh, BTW, just came across the mashup of A Charlie Brown Christmas with Hey Ya by Outkast; it’ll be a while before I get tired of it.

09. Non-animated movie?
I’ve seen It’s A Wonderful Life. Not required (e.g., probably won’t see it this year.)

10. Personal memory?
So many, which I’ve mentioned before.

11. Story/Fairy Tale?
A Christmas Carol.

This or That

12. Candy cane or peppermint patties?
Probably the only time I eat candy canes. I prefer peppermint patties but don’t associate them with Christmas.

13. Sugar or gingerbread cookies?

14. Tinsel or beaded strands?
Grew up with tinsel. Now, neither.

15. Multi-colored or same-colored lights?
White. Grew up with multicolored.

16. Flashing or still lights?
Still. Grew up with flashing.

17. Wreaths or mistletoe/holly?
Wreaths, but that’s my wife.

18. Rudolph or Frosty?
Rudolph, because I relate to his oppression. Besides my daughter has a Frosty book and I find it creepy.

19. Sledding or snowball fights?
Incresingly, neither. I liked sledding as a kid, but since I got frostbite on my feet when I was 16, I just don’t play much outdoors.

20. Snow or ice/icicles?
Light snow.

21. Snow hat or earmuffs?

22. Getting or giving?
I’ve lost (mostly) my getting vibe. Getting for Lydia is fun; the rest, not so much.

23. Snow days or plow trucks?
Plows. My wife and daughter have snow days and I’m jealous as hell.

24. Stockings or presents?

25. Cookies & milk or letter to Santa?

26. Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
Christmas Eve for certain.

27. Log Burning Channel or real thing?
The real thing, though I currently don’t have the capacity.

28. Cards or emails?
Cards, though in fact this is is the first since Lydia was born that we’ve sent any (and only nine thus far.)

29. Shoveling or cleaning off the car?
I prefer shoveling. It’s a consistent motion. I went years without access to a car, so the hassle bothers me more. I live in the city so I don’t NEED a car.

30. The Inn’s manger or the animals?
Animals, a function of a Lydia book about the Christmas owl.

31. Mary & Joseph or The Wise Men?
I always played one of the Wise Men, so there’s that. Sang a Magnificat (Mary story) this past week, though, so it’s a tossup.

32. Hot cocoa or eggnog?
Eggnog, because I don’t associate hot cocoa with the season especially.

33. Jack Frost or Little Drummer Boy?
I used to sing Little Drummer Boy.

“Yay!” or “Ugh”:

34. Holiday shopping?
Ugh! (Though online has made it tolerable. Barely.)

35. Icy roads?

36. Limited driving visibility?
Well, ugh.

37. Christmas carolers.
Yay! (I’ve been one.)

38. Mall Santas?
Depends on the quality of the Santa.

39. Salvation Army Santas?
Yay! Love this improv bit!

40. Blizzards?
If I’m at work, Ugh. If I’m at home and I don’t have to go anywhere, Yay!

41. 24/7 Holiday radio?
Ugh! They play the same damn songs every other day. I’ll play my own, thank you. My wife is a Yay om this, BTW.

42. Freezing cold?

43. Setting up the tree?

44. Wrapping presents?
Ugh. I stink at it.

45. Visiting/seeing family?
Feh. Doesn’t happen.

46. Ad-Lib on “Rudolph (like Monopoly!)
Does that bit have a more formal name? I find that it exists in lots of songs of that period, including Over the Rainbow and Try a Little Tenderness. Yay.

47. Free mint red/white candy?

48. Belief in Santa Claus?

49. Chocolate advent calender?
Did this one year. It was really inferior chocolate. Ugh.

50. Peeking at your gifts (or by accident)?

51. Making out with Santa under the mistletoe?
Depends on the Santa.

52. Decorated houses?

53. Extreme decorated houses?
Ugh! Big ugh!

54. White Christmas morning?

55. Searching for ornaments in the attic?
Meh. Actually we have a ridiculously organized place for them, so no searching involved.

56. Santa knowing when you’re sleeping and awake?
Very Large Ugh! I actually heard a sermon on this topic.

First Thought That Comes To Mind When You Hear…

67. Snowflake!
Crazy. It’s the flake thing.

68. Pinecones!

69. Elves!
Hound Dog. OH, ELVES; I thought you said ELVIS. Santa.

70. Sleigh!
Jingle bells.

71. Presents!

72. Cookies!

73. Misletoe!
A girl named Mary.

74. Rudolph!
Some Nazi war criminal.

75. Blizzard!
March 1888. Biggest snow storm in Albany history, also affecting NYC. Killed a bunch of people.

76. School’s Canceled!
Lucky them, but I gprobably have to go to work anyway.

77. Ice Skating!
Trying it once to woo Carol. It worked; haven’t done it since.

78. Santa’s Lap!

79. Black Friday!
To avoid at all costs.

80. God’s Son!
We’re all God’s children.

81. Melting Snow!

82. Lumps of Coal!
My grandmother heated with coal.

83. Nutcracker!

84. Ho Ho Ho!
Santa Claus

85. North Pole!
Global warming and starving polar bears.

What’s a Winter Activity YOU Do…

86. …In the snow by yourself?
I try not to go out in the snow by myself. I try to stay indoors as much as possible.

87. …Inside by yourself?
Play Christmas songs.

88. …In a public place (with/alone)?
Go to the movies.

89. …With friends/family in the snow at home?
Look, I’m not going out in the snow.

90. …With friends/family inside at home?
Watch TV. Christmas episodes.


Christmas Shopping QUESTIONS

Are you a Black Friday shopper? Or even a Thanksgiving day shopper? I’m not. I HATE shopping on Black Friday, with something approaching religious fervor. More accurately, the one time I went out there in the big box stores, I felt like an atheist at a tent revival.

Actually, there was a Black Friday a few years ago that wasn’t so bad. We went shopping in a little town called Delhi, NY. It was no more crowded than a normal shopping day. It was relaxed and pleasant.

Are you a Cyber Monday shopper? I have been, and would have been this year, save for the fact that I had a sick child who was not so ill that we couldn’t play the usual coterie of games (Sorry, Uno and Candyland) over and over, plus reading to her.

For years, I used to have a tradition before online shopping got so easy. I’d take off a weekday from work around December 17 and do all my shopping in one day. It was early enough that if it didn’t pan out, I still had the weekend, but close enough to create urgency in me without anxiety.

What kind of Christmas shopper are you?


The Bob Dylan Christmas Album QUESTION

As you may have heard, Bob Dylan is going to be releasing a Christmas album in October, a benefit album. (The YouTube video on this page has Tennessee Ernie Ford singing and Jon Provost, who played Timmy on Lassie, trying to pretend to be attentive; very odd.)

Our library director Darrin and his brother-in-law Fred, both rather expert in Dylanology, started exchanging possible song titles for the collection, including:

Santa, Could You Please Crawl in My Window
Knockin’ on Santa’s Door
Santa, I Believe in You
Sleigh Bells Blowin’ in the Wind
I Dreamed I Saw St. Nicholas
Santa, Lay Down Your Weary Sack
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go, Santa
Stay, Santa, Stay
Every Flake of Snow
Buckets of Coal (In My Stocking)
North Pole Homesick Blues
It’s All Over Now, Baby Red-Nosed Reindeer
Santa Claus Lane Revisited
Man in the 2-XL Red Coat
Positively 34th Street
Can You Please Crawl Up Your Chimney?
Dear Santa
You’re a Big Girl Now (…to Believe in Santa Claus)
It Ain’t Me, Kid (Now, Go Back to Bed!)
Ballad of a Not-so Thin Man
Annual Gift-Giver from the North Country
A Hard Snow’s A-Gonna Fall
Twelve Days
Motorsled Nitemare
Ring Them Silver Bells
It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Needing)
Boots of Arctic Leather
Chimneys of Freedom
Please, Mrs. Claus
One More Glass of Milk

I tried but only came up with these few:
Absolutely Sweet Mary
All the Tired Reindeer
Can You Please Crawl Down My Chimney?
When I Trim My Mantelpiece
With Nick On Our Side

Any suggestions?


X is for Xmas

A couple things:
1. As this Wikipedia article suggests, the use of the X(or a variant) has long historical precedent, close to a millennium, long before the days of modern advertising. The word “Christ” and its compounds, including “Christmas”, have been abbreviated in English for at least the past 1,000 years, long before the modern “Xmas” was commonly used.
“Christ” was often written as “XP” or “Xt”; there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as AD 1021. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters χ and ρ, used in ancient abbreviations for Χριστος (Greek for “Christ”), and are still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting Jesus Christ. The labarum, an amalgamation of the two Greek letters rendered as ☧, is a symbol often used to represent Christ in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian Churches.
In ancient Christian art, χ and χρ are abbreviations for Christ’s name. In many manuscripts of the New Testament and icons, X is an abbreviation for Christos, as is XC (the first and last letters in Greek, using the lunate sigma); compare IC for Jesus in Greek. The Oxford English Dictionary documents the use of this abbreviation back to 1551, 50 years before the first English colonists arrived in North America and 60 years before the King James Version of the Bible was completed. At the same time, Xian and Xianity were in frequent use as abbreviations of “Christian” and “Christianity”; and nowadays still are sometimes so used, but much less than “Xmas”.

So, no, this is not my assault on Christmas; it is my attempt to get to the historical roots.

2. At least in my church calendar, we are in the midst of Christmastide (or Xmastide, if you will), beginning on December 25 and going forward to Epiphany or Three Kings Day, or as my mother still calls it, Russian Christmas. In my hometown, there were lots of Russians and most of them attended the Russian Orthodox Church. THESE are the 12 days of Christmas, which is good because I’m still working on some presents. Before Christmas Eve, I’m not particularly interested in playing Christmas music, but NOW ever more so.

The pleasant surprise this Christmas was that I went out front to get the newspaper on Christmas morning. I discovered a doll for Lydia from an unexpected source – the three neighbor girls a few houses up. I don’t even know their names, and they don’t know Lydia’s (the card referred to her as the “little cutie”). I suspect that the girls, who appear to be between 10 and 14, saw a cute doll while they were shopping, and decided to give it to someone they saw waiting with her mom or dad at the bus stop in front of their house each morning.
December 26: I’m wearing a Santa hat (one I had left at work two days earlier). I had a red coat, and a beard. I’m waiting for a bus when this guy I didn’t even see said, “Hey, Santa.” I turn around. The guy continues, “Got some change? I don’t get any money until the first of the month. ” Roger might have turned him down, but Santa could not.

If you lived in the United States at Christmastime, you might remember the Folgers coffee commercial where “Peter” makes a surprise visit home for the holidays; it ran for over a decade and a half. The story behind the commercial.


The Lydster, Part 57: He Sees You When You're Sleeping

This is the very first Christmas Lydia has spent in her own home. In prior years, we’d be at her grandparents’ house. But this is the first year she really has waiting on Christmas.

Her parents have told her relatively little about the whole Christmas tradition compared what she’s picked up from her friends. She knows, for instance, a whole bunch of Christmas songs that she learned at day care, some of which the kids sang at a local hospital’s geriatric unit. (“Going to see the grandmas and grandpas” is how it’s put.)

One of the songs she knows is “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” She may have known about it before from a “dancing snowman” one of my in-laws cursed us with a year or two ago. In any case, she’s taken the words to heart.

So much so that one day, the day after a night when Lydia was slow to get to bed, Lydia started crying uncontrollably for no obvious reason. After the paternal investigation, it came to light that she thought she wasn’t being very good the night before, that Santa could “see” that she was being “bad” and she would get no gifts for Christmas! I had to reassure her that she in fact was a good child and that Santa would not “stiff” her.

One of my pastors preached on his disdain for that particular song. It might have been based somewhat on that omniscient thing.

Still, a parent can be tempted, when a child is slow to wash her hands before supper or hasn’t picked up her toys to ask her, “Do you think Santa would think you are being good?” I’ve declined that option. This year.


Merry Christmas

Some Christmas limericks from The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form

Christmas by Bob Dvorak (Bob Dvorak)

Though merchants may tally its worth,

Our reflections should turn to His birth:

Christmas celebrates when

God appeared among men

With a message of peace for the earth.

Christmas by Richard Stehr (Richard Stehr)

If I missed out on Christmas, perhaps

It’s because I was one of those chaps

Who had chances to be

Perched upon Santa’s knee

But, unfortunately, let them lapse.

Christmas by Charles Silliman (Charles Silliman)

By a star, the three wise men were led.

But they found, as they stood at His bed,

That the one brightest light

On that first Christmas night

Was the glow from the Son of God’s head.

Christmas by Dottie (Anne Clements)

There’s a brightly lit tree in the hall,

Lots of cards, all displayed on the wall.

Gifts are wrapped, shopping’s done,

Now it’s time for the fun—

Happy Christmas, dear friends, one and all!

Christmas by stella

May your Christmas be filled with delight;

May your tinsel be sparkly and bright;

May your crackers go pop!

May you eat till you drop;

And may you and your in-laws not fight.

The Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, MANY Faces of Santa Claus! by Fred Hembeck
Kringus Offerings by Samurai Frog

The arithmetic of Christmas: This person’s been talking about Christmas only since April. While it’s been less than 2% of my lifetime since last Christmas, it’s been over 20% of hers.


My Favorite Christmases: 1996

I’m running out of memorable positive Christmases after noting Christmases past here and here and here It’s not that all the rest were awful, just undifferentiated in my mind. The one in 1990 WAS awful, though, when the tenor soloist at my church, Sandy Cohen, died on Christmas Eve, shortly before we were supposed to sing. Sing we did, and by any objective measure, we were terrible. But it wasn’t just his voice we missed; it was his spirit.

Last year, or church did a service a couple weeks before Christmas for people who have a difficult time with the holiday season for one reason or another. It was ill-attended and the service wasn’t repeated this year, but I do “get” the feeling.

What to pick, then? I’ll go with 1996. It was the first time I’d spent Christmas with my birth/growing up family in years. In my years at FantaCo, e.g., I never went to North Carolina for Christmas because that was the height of the retail season. In fact, often we didn’t celebrate Christmas until MLK day, after the annual inventory was finished. Other years involved going to the home of a friend or a girlfriend. The last several we’ve spent at my in-laws’.

The two things that were cool about 1996: my niece Alexandra was about to turn six; her birthday, unfortunately for her, is five days after Christmas. It’s rather nice to be in the presence of a child that age who’s so looking forward to Christmas.

The other thing was my gift to Alex, which was some reversible print clothing outfit of some sort that I had purchased at a clothing fair a few days earlier. I was loath to buy clothing for people I don’t see often, but this ensemble spoke to me. Not only did she like it, her mother, my sister Marcia, liked it as well. They (my mother, sister and niece) raved about it for the two years she was able to wear it in various combinations so that it looked fresh, and even after Alex outgrew it. Uncle Roger had done well.

Earthrise, December 24, 1968 from Apollo 8
Gee, I need to get a more current seasonal picture of my family:

A great review of It’s a Wonderful Life by Steve Bissette and how it’s even more applicable in 2008.
He’s not just a man in a Santa suit. Roger Green takes his role of Santa Claus very seriously and even has documents to attest to his alter ego. No, it’s not me, but how could I resist the link?

Christmas meme

From Johnny B.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

I admit it; I have issues with wrapping paper. Specifically, when I was a child, I thought it would be a good idea, instead of wasting money on wrapping paper, to wrap my presents in the comic section of my local newspaper. Now I’d be seen as environmentally sensitive, but then I was mocked. I’ll get over it. Eventually. Maybe.

2. Real tree or artificial?

We’ve actually gone without; we feared a toddler would pull it down on herself. Last year and this, a real one.

3. When do you put up the tree?

It varies widely. It’s been two weeks before, Christmas Eve and everything in between.

4. When do you take the tree down?

Often on New Year’s Day, or a day or two after, though, when it went up on Christmas Eve, it stayed up until Epiphany.

5. Do you like eggnog?

Especially with amaretto. Pour it correctly and it gets all swirly.

6. Favorite gifts received as a child?

My Johnny Seven OMA – one-man army. It was so cool, it’s a surprise I became a pacifist. I was watching the Tonight show and Tom Hanks was talking about having one when HE was a kid.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
Johnny’s answer:
My mother. She has no hobbies, has everything she needs, and if she doesn’t have something, she can go out and buy it for herself. It’s an ordeal every year to come up with something…but hey, it’s my Ma! I try hard every year.
That’s about right.

8. Easiest person to buy for?

My daughter. She’s not that greedy, either.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?

A couple of them. They don’t always actually get displayed, more out of time crunch than anything.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

Last year, probably neither. We HOPE to mail this year.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

Some work exchange present of a redneck daily calendar.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?

I resisted it for SO long, I’ll have to give props to It’s a Wonderful Life. Much darker than I would have imagined.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

I buy when the spirit strikes. I’ve bought in July and after Christmas for distant relatives who don’t care as long as the present arrives by Epiphany.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

Probably, but I don’t have a specific recollection.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

Candy canes.

16. Lights on the tree?


17. Favorite Christmas song?

Coventry Carol, though I have a great fondness for a song by Julie Andrews called The Bells of Christmas.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Usually visit the in-laws in Oneonta, an hour away, but this year, it’s at our house.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

All nine.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?


21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

Listening to boring debates about how “they” have taken the Christ out of Christmas. My Jehovah’s Witness acquaintance notes that they don’t celebrate Christmas at all because it’s rooted in pagan winter solstice traditions. He wouldn’t put it this way, but one could make the case, by his definition, that most people have taken the Christ, who probably wasn’t a Capricorn, out of Christmas.
Oh, yeah, and the lower headline:

My friend Lynne recommends that people go to visit the Rev Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?

I like red things.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?

Traditional turkey/mashed potatoes.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

I don’t know. I mean besides the traditional Hess truck and World Almanac. Oh and the new Macca album.

26. Who is most likely to respond to this?

I’m guessing the near-twin Gordon.
For those of you not in the Albany-Schenectady area, you can only imagine how utterly furious I am about this story: Ex-Schenectady Police Chief Gregory T. Kaczmarek and his wife, Lisa, are expected to admit their roles in a drug ring that supplied Schenectady streets with cocaine and heroin. I lived in Schenectady only a year and a half, but the idea of the top cop undermining his own law enforcement for personal gain turned me a Christmas shade of crimson.