I’ve been incommunicado for a while. My wife and I have been caring for my mother in various venues that started with her apartment, then moved into our house for three years, and when the level of care she needed became beyond our abilities, into a nursing home last March. She had her ups and downs, with the downs becoming more frequent and lasting longer. It broke my heart when her absentee ballot came in October and she wasn’t lucid enough to understand how to make the choices. I could have filled it out, knowing how she would vote, but with votes being fabricated throughout the state I live in, I just couldn’t in good conscience do it. She took a turn for the worse in November and finally passed away the Friday before Thanksgiving. It’s a bittersweet thing. I’m going to miss her, but she’s with God now, and she’s better than she ever has been. As I said at her memorial service, if they have crocheting in heaven, right now she’s making a scarf of many colors for Joseph – to go with his coat.
In light of all that’s happened this year, it now falls upon me to try and deal with this seasonal thing they call Christmas Spirit. That’s always been a hard sell for me – my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, and I’m one of those Scrooges who thinks Christmas has become too commercial. But my wife loves Christmas, so I always try to make an effort.
So this year I’m working hard to jump start things. I’ve strung my traditional Stratocaster Christmas lights in my office, and I’ve started an intravenous infusion of Christmas music via iTunes and iPod in the hopes of perking myself up a bit. And I thought that this might be a good time to revive an Internet meme that I participated in a few years ago when I was blogging about writing. The thing is, I’m not going to go through 1,000 blog entries to find it, even if I know to just look in Decembers, so I’m going to attempt to do it by memory. And I thought of a couple of other things I could add along the way.
Thus, in my attempt to further pump up my Christmas spirit, here is the recreated Christmas Meme – a simple list with one answer each… except you know me. My life and tastes are more complicated than one simple answer…
FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SONG
Like I said, never easy. So I broke it down:
Religious – Silent Night
Secular – One Christmas Catalogue by Captain Sensible
With swearing in it – Fairytale of New York by The Pogues
FAVORITE CHRISTMAS ALBUM
Traditional – A Charlie Brown Christmas
Non-Traditional – The Jethro Tull Christmas Album
FAVORITE CHRISTMAS ARTIST
Harry Connick, Jr. The guy gets Christmas, and his three Christmas albums are all wonderful, mixing traditional with jazzy arrangements. He writes original Christmas songs, too, and they’re terrific – especially (It Must Have Been Ol’) Santa Claus.
FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIE
Another tough choice. Since again I can’t seem to pick one, here’s the short list:
The Polar Express – The spirit of Christmas, and the best vision of what Santa’s North Pole is like.
A Christmas Story – It’s 2008, but as long as there are families, this is what Christmas is really like.
Love, Actually – For Grown-ups. Because at Christmas, you tell the truth.
White Christmas – Great fun like A Christmas Story, and I love the overall theme of sacrifice to a friend.
FAVORITE PORTRAYAL OF SCROOGE
George C. Scott
FAVORITE CHRISTMAS TV SPECIAL
The Rankin-Bass version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, home of the line, “Hey, we can be independent together!”
FAVORITE CHRISTMAS TV EPISODE
Christmas episodes of established series are baaaaad news. More often than not, they try to rehash A Christmas Carol, with not-so-good results because all of their characters step out of character to fit the story into the series. The exception to this was WKRP In Cincinnati, which put a modern spin on the Scrooge story, kept everyone in character within the Dickens universe, and was eerily prescient about what radio would be like in the 21st Century. Runner up: WKRP’s Thanksgiving episode: “I thought turkeys could fly!”
FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MEMORY
The loud, raucous Christmas Eves spent at the home of my wife’s maternal Grandmother.
FAVORITE CHRISTMAS GIFT RECEIVED
That was either The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, or the Spy Christmas. When I was in junior high and my favorite show was Mission: Impossible, my much-older brother sent me on a spy mission one Christmas eve, running all over his house finding my presents from him and his wife. And the gifts were all spy-related – like a kit with a camera that turned into a pistol, code wheels, etc.
FAVORITE CHRISTMAS GIFT GIVEN
I much more enjoy giving, and I’ve got a lot of memories of folks opening presents from me. The topper has to be my nephew when he was just a toddler. I got him a Tuneyville Choo Choo, a train that went in circles and played nursery rhymes on little geared records. He opened it first, and every other present he got that Christmas eve, he unceremoniously dropped and went right back to playing with that train. Cool uncle status sealed!
FAVORITE CHRISTMAS TRADITION
Apricot fried pies. From my dad’s mother to my mom to my wife. And now my children are learning how to make them…