Ghosts of Christmas Columns Past

Oh, friends, how I have missed you. The past two weeks are a blur in my mind, a cocophany of truck stops, crummy motels, more talk radio than any human being should have to endure.

The long and the short of it is I am safely in America--for now--hiding out, trying to figure out my next move. And I have so much to tell you! I could write at least ten columns alone on my trip, and this doesn't include the Chrismtas columns or end-of-the-year stuff, and on and on.

Unfortunately, computer usage is even more tough than back at the outlaw camp. This here is the first computer I've sat in front of for ages, and I only have it for ten minutes tonight. I get it for two hours tomorrow, but I promised Tracy Lynn a guest column and I'm already late on that, so my time tomorrow will be spent typing that up. But I promise to do everything I can to get regular columns to you soon. I 'preciate you bearing with me.

One thing I did want to do is to re-run all of my old Christmas columns. I don't offer them as necessarily "good," especially the first few, but if nothing else you can laugh at how bad a writer I used to be. (And for those who still think I'm bad, you can laugh at how I'm "worse.") Because I'm getting such a late start and I have so much to tell you all, I will be re-running Christmas columns all weekend, so show up here tomorrow as well.

I really do miss you all.


Okay, so today I have the first two Christmas columns I ever wrote, way back in 2000. I thought the first one raised a good point (although my writing was beyong clumsy and ham-handed), but the negative feedback was incredible. But before we get to that, take a look at my first efforts:

#19 Tis the Season

"Quieta movere magna merces videbatur"
"Just to stir things up seemed great reward in itself." –Sallust

Billy is six years old. His family is comfortably middle class. Billy is excited because Christmas is almost here, and that means Santa Claus is coming. Billy has seen pictures of Santa, but Billy has never personally seen Santa. Billy has heard Santa’s voice in movies and commercials, but Billy has never personally heard Santa. In fact, he would not be sure that Santa existed at all if it were not for one thing: Billy’s parents are the ones that told Billy about Santa. Billy’s parents would never lie to Billy. Every Christmas Eve, Billy’s mom helps Billy write a letter to Santa. Billy usually always gets most of what he asks for from Santa.

The next day, Santa comes through. Christmas day is a bonanza of gifts for Billy to open. Star Wars figures, Leggos, inline skates; even a scooter and once a puppy. Christmas is easily the best day of the year for Billy. Another great day is the day back to school; telling all his friends what he got, and seeing what they got. Billy notices that Juan and Mark never get very much, and Tony never gets anything at all. In the back of his mind, this bothers Billy. Everybody knows that Santa Claus gives gifts to those who are “nice”, and skips those who are “naughty”. Billy has no real reason to think that Juan, Mark, and Tony are bad kids (although one time Mark did hit Billy, but that was in Kindergarden, ages ago), and his friends never getting much vaguely trouble Billy. Nevertheless, Billy is six, and like most six year olds, mostly thinks about himself. Bottom line, Billy gets presents every year, and that is as far as Billy’s thinking goes.

Skip forward five years. Billy is now 11. He heard his friend Chris talking about Santa Claus, and saying some pretty mean things. Billy almost got in a fight with Chris, defending Santa Claus. How could anyone say anything against Santa? However, the thought takes hold in Billy’s mind, and he cannot let it go. Billy says nothing in the days leading up to Christmas, and he is still overjoyed to get many of the things he asked for from Santa. It is not quite as good, though, now that doubt about Santa has crept up. Billy asks him mom and dad about it, and they assure Billy that Santa Claus is as real as he is. This is comforting for a while, but eventually the thought returns. Billy thinks about it increasingly, finally realizing what Chris said must be true. Living at the North Pole, working with “elves”, traveling around the world in one night: Billy feels stupid now, believing what could not possibly be real. The wonder that he felt before is only matched now by the bitterness and disappointment. Worst of all: Billy’s parents lied to him. They had never done that before. Or had they? Billy starts to wonder about everything that his parents had told him. Were there other things they lied about?

Billy is six years old. His family is comfortably middle class. Billy is excited because tomorrow is Sunday, and that means going to church, where Jesus lives. Well, Jesus also lives in Billy’s heart. At least that is how his mom explained it…

December 15, 2000

So that was that. The response was so negative I wrote an "apology" column a few days later. Except....I wasn't one bit sorry. So my apology was actually fake. I would have thought this pretty obvious by how I atoned (as you will see in the column), but this column, much more disrespectful to my mind, actually brought lots of positive email. Go figure. Anyway, here it is (and feel free to sing any of these that strike your fancy).

#21 More Holiday Fun

“I am a poor man, but I would gladly give ten shillings to find out who sent me the insulting Christmas card I received this morning.”
-George Grossmith

A wise man once told me “The best two ways to reach people are to inspire them, or to piss them off.” I have not had too much luck inspiring anybody, but my recent mailbag shows me that I still can rile up the folks out there. Nice to know I have not lost my touch. However, the overwhelming response to my Santa Claus column, as well as the nature of the criticism, prompts me to respond en masse.

I expected folks to criticize me for coming down on parents. For the record, this was not what I was trying to do, but I can understand the response. It is a lot easier to criticize when you are not in the game. I do not have any kids (I’ve never been that drunk) and I do not presume to tell parents what to do with theirs, other than to not bring babies to movies. I also have nothing against my parents for the way the handled the “Santa Claus Question”. I first thought of this Kris Kringle Konspiracy several years ago; well after the age of belief, as it were. I found the connections between God and Santa to be striking, in a way. I offered the column as a discussion piece, designed to get people thinking and talking. I certainly do not have all the answers on how to raise children. Indeed, if I had a child I would lie to them daily, on just about everything.

So, this criticism was expected. What blew me away, however, was the pillorying I got from people who thought that Column #19 was my anti-God manifesto. Some people mildly rebuked me, while others excoriated my for spurning Jesus. People: chill. I am not turning away from God or anything like that. I was not really offering much theology in the piece at all. In fact, if anything, I think it could be took as a pro-God piece, indicting the lies we sometimes tell our young. Regardless, I would like to apologize to everyone who was upset. As a token of goodwill, I have printed some Christmas carols below for you to sing with your loved ones. Of course, I could not get permission to use the lyrics, so I had to make up my own. I am sure you will find them delightful, though, and start new family traditions of singing Hyperion Carols around the piano on cold Christmas Eves.


Deck the Halls with advertising, FaLaLaLaLa, LaLaLaLa
Tis the season to be enterprising, FaLaLaLaLa, LaLaLaLa

Wait, I can do better than that

Deck the Halls with advertising, FaLaLaLaLa, LaLaLaLa
Tis the season for Merchandising, FaLaLaLaLa, LaLaLaLa
Shopping is a big endeavor, FaLaLa, LaLaLa, La, La, La
Hurry up; it’s now or never, FaLaLaLaLa, LaLaLaLa

Dashing through the mall/With three little brats
Trying to get to Macys before they’re out of hats
Oh, wait, I’ve lost a kid/Or were there only two?
I’d look for him but I’d just as soon lose the others, too, Oh
Christmas, aches, Christmas pains/Aren’t we having fun?
I know I’ll get an ulcer before Christmas time is done
Christmas aches, Christmas pains/Will it ever end?
The worst part is that next year we will do this all again.

Oh, You better go shop/You better go buy
You better not stop/I’m telling you why
Christmas time is coming to town
You’ve finished your list/But hold up, just wait
‘Cause more gave you gifts/You must reciprocate
Christmas time is coming to town
You have no time for sleeping/Though you’re barely awake
With parties you must go to/For friends’ and families’ sake
Oh, you better go shop/You better go buy
You better not stop/I’m telling you why
Christmas time is coming to town

I’m dreaming of a tight Christmas/In a lot more ways than one
At buffets, I’ll suckle/‘Till my pants won’t buckle
And my dough, is gone in all the fun
I’m dreaming, of a tired Christmas/By the time this Holiday’s through
With winter weather/And the family together I think, I will become a Jew

Ho, Ho, Ho,

December 19, 2000

Up Next: The next Christmas column actually got me disowned by my own grandmother. I am not making this up. Tune in tomorrow as Blasphemy, thy name is Hypey.


Skittles said...

Why is it with you near I feel more of a warm, uh holiday, cheer - yeah yeah that's it :-)

Lady Jane Scarlett said...

Flip! I say don't apologize, except if it's a Mad Sweeney.
BTW...Elvis says hello. He's a hunk-a-hunk-a burnin' love.