Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Abecedarius

A is for Anticipation. Cf. Catelli: I share his sentiments.

B is for Boris Karloff, still and for all time the only Grinch I recognize.

C is for Christ. This is the one time of year I hearken back to the religious parts of my upbringing (I veered all over the place from harshly atheistic to reasonably devout, hitting every point in between more than once. I both respect and enjoy the traditions of the Christmas story, even if I don't currently believe in a Saviour as such. If the choice is between piety and crass commercialism, give me piety, forever and ever, amen.

D is for Deck the Halls--a carol I positively *hate*. The lyricist within wishes the 'fa la la la la, la la la la' was just about ANYTHING else. Wikipedia notes that carols were originally dances and not songs. This one should have stayed a dance.

E is for Eggnog. Eva can't stand the stuff. I'm neutral on it--but I make a point of buying one liter a year, and enjoying it the way I enjoy coffee: only partly for the taste...mostly for the medicinal effects. (In case you're wondering, eggnog has been scientifically proven to heighten holiday cheer. That's right, I'm a holiday scientist.) Ken the dairy manager intrudes: can we all please decide how much eggnog we're going to consume in a given year, and stick to it? The first year, I had none for all of Christmas Eve. The second, I was hung with an ocean of the stuff. Every year since,. I've dreaded forecasting and ordering eggnog. Each year we sell a little less, but how much less is anyone's guess. This year, my supplier ran out of eggnog three days ago, only to find a bunch yesterday, somewhere, and ship it my way. I might be okay this time. For once in my life.

F is for Family and Friends. The vital ingredients in any Christmas celebration. Please take some time out of your busy holiday schedule and spare a thought for those in old folks' homes and hospitals who maybe don't get the Christmas visits they should. One of our rituals is to drop off a bunch of presents, anonymously, at a local nursing home. The staff invariably thinks we're somebody's family members and we do nothing to disabuse them of the notion.

G is for Gingerbread. Like eggnog, it only seems to exist at this time of year. And like eggnog, I can never get the quantities right. I have to book the Christmas shipment of Pillsbury product every April or May, and I've learned that anything left come December 26th won't sell even if you reduce it by 90%. So I order light...and invariably I'm out of stock come the second week of December.

H is for Hanks, Tom, in The Polar of only two relatively recent additions to the Christmas pantheon of television classics here in the Breadbin. (The other is Shrek the Halls, which is hysterical.)

I is for icicles. In my childhood, we never just stopped at a tree and lights when it came to decorating the house. The job was never done until the front window had been creatively frosted with fake snow in a can. I vividly recall crafting snowballs and icicles on the window with this stuff. Haven't noticed it for sale in a great many years. I wonder if it was carcinogenic or something....

J is for Jean Shepard, the man we have to thank for A Christmas Story...for my money, the funniest Christmas-themed movie of all time. I somehow made it all the way to married without seeing this, even though it debuted when I was eleven years old. Now it's a must-watch.

K is for Kids--whose sheer enjoyment of the season is worth the amount of stress the adults go through putting it together.

L is for Love

M is for Movies, specifically those you rent. I worked at a variety store/video rental place over Christmas once and was utterly flabbergasted at the demand. Pretty much every title we had was out on loan, from the pornography right on down. Apparently nothing says Christmas like Alien vs. Predator.

N is for Not Until in, when Christmas Day was allowed to start up north at my dad's place. This would have been, I think, 1984 or so. I went in to wake him at the customary (for me) 5:30 and was told off, in no uncertain terms. So I went out to the living room and flipped on the television, tuning it to that channel that spilled out the news ticker-tape fashion, and commenced to clock-watch with a will. Somewhere there's a photograph of me, passed out on the living room rug, with that screen reading 8:47.

O is for Outhouses. One year, there was a single, solitary gift for my mother under the tree. I can't help but think she must have been a little miffed as she watched us fill the living room with wrapping paper before she finally had something to open herself. That one thing was undoubtedly the most creative present I've ever seen given. Her only present that year was a calendar...a standard wall calendar, with an "outhouse" theme. Each month had pictures of privies. Each month also had a ticket to something designed to get her "out of the house". Blue Jays tickets one month. Tickets to some musical another month. Tickets to a hot air balloon ride. And so on and so forth, every month of the year. Every year I award my stepdad mad points as I scramble to find something, anything, that Eva will love getting.

P is for Peach, one of the best Christmas presents we've ever got, home on Christmas Day 2006. Georgia-Peach has wormed her way into every heart she's encountered and she's got a firm hold on ours.

Q is for Quiet--the part of the holiday I appreciate the most.

R is for Rain, Dear. Picture this: one very wet and mild Christmas in the seventies, when I still believed in Santa and the whole shebang. I was maybe five or six, and my mom, in desperation, had hauled out the old chestnut about Santa only coming to houses where kids were ASLEEP. Like I could sleep with CHRISTMAS DAY an eyeblink away. I was just about there despite myself when I heard him. I heard Santa! I could hear the pitter-patter of Rudolph and company's feet on the roof. I flew out of bed and called out to Mommy that Santa was here, Santa was here! And she replied, without thinking, "Go back to sleep, it's just rain, dear."

S is for Shaving Cream. Another Christmas memory, this time from my teens. The deal in our house was my stocking would be deposited in my room overnight while I, ahem, slept, and I'd bring it out for discovery (cough-cough) in the morning. Of course, it never worked out quite that way...I would feign sleep until they were safely out of sight and earshot and then dump the contents of the sock out on to my bed, uncovering the mutant gigantor nuclear oranges and apples that you only ever find in stockings along with other, more desirable, items.
One year, for reasons unknown, I deviated from my usual dumping strategy. I instead thrust my arm into the waist high sock, which had been filled to the brim with cardboard and bits of rock to simulate the usual stocking stuffers--and the rest of the sock was full of sh...aving cream. Yecccch. Cue the door opening and the flash of the camera...

T is for Turkey. We were always pretty conservative on the question of turkey at Christmas, until one year my dad and stepmom fed us prime rib. Let's put it this way--the only reason we're having turkey today is because Eva's family is still pretty conservative on the question of turkey at Christmas.

U is for Understanding, a trait my wife has in spades. Very useful when I can't find the perfect gift on a limited budget, which happens, oh, about every year. Our first year together I bought her a Chinese dog-clock, which was supposed to symbolize love and luck and damnit, I wish I could go back in time to the exact instant I was pulling out my wallet and slap myself full of sense.

V is for Vinyl Cafe, yet another Christmas tradition here. If you haven't heard about Dave's rather...unorthodox...method of cooking a turkey...or about the time he attended a Christmas party and spiked the kids' punchbowl by mistake...or about the other Christmas party where he set the host on fire...or any of the other Christmas tales Stuart McLean whips out each year, please, go and listen.

W is for World Juniors. Some of the best hockey each year is played in the period from Boxing Day to January 5th or so, and often by our assembled team. We're gunning for a record sixth straight gold medal this year, and for once a Maple Leaf prospect is one of the centerpieces of the team. Go Kadri and Go Canada.

X is for Xmas--which is not, as many have asserted, an attempt to 'cross out' Christ. Indeed, 'Christ' was commonly written 'XP' or 'Xt" as long as a thousand years ago, X in this case being the Greek letter chi. Although this spelling is widely shunned now, there is nothing wrong with it.

Y is for Yule Log. Also Yummy.

Z is for Zzzzzz...a long winter's nap. Good night, all, and Merry Christmas.


Rocketstar said...

Unrealted comment: I think you'll love this, from Sven:

Rocketstar said...

Yeah, we are maintaining some of our Christain cultural holiday activites as well, why should we let Jesus ruin those? ;o)

Enjoy the 4 days hombre.