Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Time is Here by Golly

Christmas time is here. It's a time I love. I believe Christmas should be limited to an appropriate time frame. It should not appear after Halloween. American Thanksgiving provides a perfect division of fall to winter. Fall should follow this schedule:
  • Labor Day-Canadian Thanksgiving/Columbus Day should be focused on back to school
  • mid-October-Halloween can be focused on Halloween
  • Early November should be devoted to our Veterans. I really like that there are two days in the US- Veterans Day, November 11, is devoted to honouring those vets still alive and, especially, those currently serving. It's a day to say thank you. Memorial Day is dedicated to the memory of Veterans who have died, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Yes, because it is the May long weekend, and the weather is wonderful, it has been bastardized into a day of barbecues and beaches. However, I do remember parades and special ceremonies when I was a kid, and my kids always went to a Memorial Day ceremony when we lived in the States.
  • mid-November-the end of November is harvest time focused on the end of the fall. It's all about pumpkins and apples, and hot cider or mulled wine. Thoughts turn to stockpiling wood for the fireplace and cleaning up for winter.
  • The day after America Thanksgiving-December 25 can be for Christmas. Some feel it should stick to Advent, but what's a few extra days (as long as it's not an extra month). I prefer the religious Christmas with only a little commercial thrown in. Carols and other wintry music should be played. House lights hung and lit, none of this laziness of leaving lights up all year.
I think it's all great. I love seeing the lights. I have fond memories of decorating the tree at Kelly Woods' home with her family. They always invited my brother and me. In turn, Kelly shared many a Shabbat dinner and evening in the sukkah. I remember Christmas parties at our neighbour's home. I used to squeeze behind the tree, into the corner and grab the candy canes there. We were allowed to take any candy canes off the tree that couldn't be seen from the front. These weren't little, two-bite canes. They were big, and could last a week. I'd happily sit there, petting the dog, Taffy, her head in my lap, while I ate my giant candy cane. (Okay, it was normal sized, but I was small.) I love visiting Rockefeller Center and Fifth Avenue to see the tree and the windows. I love Christmas in New York. The streets smell of fir and cedar. People smile and speak to total strangers. It's like "Miracle on 34th Street."

Speaking of "Miracle on 34th Street," I love Christmas movies (and so-called Christmas movies). My annual list:
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • It's a Wonderful Life 
  • Love Actually (not a real Christmas movie, but associated with Christmas)
  • The Holiday (see above- I watch these two all year)
  • A Christmas Carol- the 1938 black & white version with Reginald Owen and Scrooge (1951) with Alistair Sim
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas (I showed this to my kids tonight. I believe it's a cultural touchstone they've been missing. Other cultural touchstones they need- Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, plus The Year Without Santa Claus, which I loved, but soon disappeared. Yeah Youtube. They need to know their father's words to the song "Rudolph the Kosher Reindeer" are oh so wrong.
  • While You Were Sleeping (Did I mention I like sappy, romantic chick flicks?)
  • White Christmas
  • Meet Me in St Louis (also not really a Christmas movie)
Keren & I have begun to hum carols. My favorite is "Carol of the Bells." Sean looked it up on Youtube for me by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra- great version. I also love it with just bells. I'm thinking that it'd be a great ringtone, especially in July. The guys are more likely to sing Tom Lehrer songs.

By the way, if you're ever in Hawaii for Christmas, check out the display in downtown Honolulu. Santa and Mrs. Claus have come for a vacation, and dressed the part. The decorations are great and Hawaiian themed instead of winter themed in a place without winter, which I always thought odd.

Finally, I love how people wish each other well. I don't care if you wish me a merry Christmas. The week before I'll wish everyone a happy Hanukah. I hope my December 25th is a merry day. I hope to spend it in toasty warm pajamas watching Christmas movies with my kids and drinking hot cocoa, warm cider, or maybe some irish coffee.  

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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