Sunday, December 21, 2008

PC is BS

The genesis of a movement:  First there's an idea, then views and opinions are shared, the bandwagon forms, people of all walks of life hop on and, before you know it, you have a full blown movement barreling through society like a runaway train.


Some movements are good: women should vote, for example; all people are equal and, therefore, should have equal rights; and, obviously, we should take care of the environment.  Others… well, some are just out of control.  How is it we've become a people who must walk on eggshells lest we offend someone?


Don't get me wrong, something needed to be done.  We couldn't continue to have Archie Bunker types roaming around, freely spouting off ethnically, insensitive racial slurs – but we are now so far off in the other direction that I had to recently tell my friend Kaoru, when she referred to herself as an Oriental person, that that was politically incorrect.  "It is?" she said.  "Yeah," I told her, "in fact, you really can't even say you're Japanese anymore."  "Why not?"  "Because it's insensitive and offensive," I said.  "You're Asian."  "Oh," was all she said as she processed this information.  After a beat, she added, "But I'm from Japan – I am Japanese."  "Nope, you're Asian."


Now here's another one I just don't understand.  First, let me ask you this: Who do you think listens to Christmas music on the radio?  People from the Jewish community? Muslims?  Jehovah's Witnesses?  See, I don't typically think those groups are tuning in to stations that broadcast Christmas music 24/7.  And, just to be clear, I don't have any problem with people from the Jewish community, Muslims or Jehovah's Witnesses; and, if there were radio stations that specifically geared their programming to these folks, I wouldn't care.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be tuning in; and I'm also pretty sure that I wouldn't feel offended or excluded by their very existence.


So, how is it that it's seemingly become politically incorrect to play Christmas (root word, Christ) songs that mention the birth of Christ?  There are a multitude of Christmas songs out there, probably thousands, but one local station here seems to have about 12 songs that they play over and over and over and over… I am telling you, at this point, I can hardly care any less that George Michael once had his heart broken at Christmas.  And, I really don't care, at all, if Clarence has been good this year and gets his new saxophone or not.  Furthermore, I do not need to be told, again and again, that there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas (of course there won't be snow, it doesn't snow there – a large majority of that continent is below the equator).


I don't understand why it's okay to continually walk in a winter wonderland, enjoy chestnuts from an open fire and deck the halls, but not hear anything from the angels up on high. 


Why can we roll out the holly and sing praises to our trees, but not go tell it on a mountain that away in a manger, in the little town of Bethlehem, Christ was born.  Why can't we join the herald angels and sing of joy to the world about that first Noel?  Why can't the faithful sing Oh come, Oh come, Oh come Emmanuel?


No, for some reason, we must stick with silver bells, jingle bells and sleigh bells.  Frosty the Snowman and frosty air – those don't offend.  We can hear Eartha Kitt, or Madonna, coo for goodies from that velvet suit wearing sugar daddy, Santa Baby.  It's okay to continually hear reports about Rudolph guiding Santa's sleigh.  And, we all know that Alvin is still hoping for a Hula-hoop.  We hope he gets one, too.  Don't misunderstand me, we all want Christmas to be merry and bright – it is the most wonderful time of the year, after all.


The thing is, Christmas is not a commercial/retail holiday – oh sure, that aspect has truly taken over, but don't ever forget that long ago, it came upon a midnight clear, when after the shepherds were asked, "Do you hear what I hear?" they met up with the three kings of Orient (Asia…well, Asia Minor) to welcome the baby Jesus on that holy, holy night.  


How can it be wrong to air these time-tested, traditional Christmas carols? As I asked before, who's tuning in that would be offended by these yuletide classics?  I gotta tell ya, I don't know how it is that we got in this particular handcart, and I don't know where it is, exactly, that we'll end up, but I did actually hear a version of Silent Night on the radio the other day, and in much the way that Christ's birth brought hope to the world, I thought that, perhaps, there may still be a little hope for us yet.  And that is what Christmas is all about.


God rest ye merry gentlemen (i.e., mankind – read: humankind)


 - M   



PS: For the loyal readers out there, I received another Vogel family greeting card this year (see 9-14-08 post Blast from the Past) which has left me, once again, shaking my head...


Fa la la la la la la la la J



Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas with Danny Aiello

Well, Thanksgiving is already behind us and we're knee-deep into the holiday season.  For many, this time of year unleashes a slew of holiday traditions.


Generally, the festivities are kicked off with the aforementioned, unusually large, autumn-themed dinner – I mean, does anyone actually make parsnips at any other time of the year?


Then, before the bloating even subsides, there are those setting their alarm clocks for the early a.m. – so early, that for some, it's still considered night – just to dash off to the early-early-early-bird Black Friday special sales that insanely vie for all the overeager shoppers – hoping to nab their cash, increase their credit lines and decrease their debit balances.  Ah, capitalism.  Why each year even my stepsisters rush out at 4:00 a.m.  Why?  Are they just being thrifty?  I think it's more for the fun of it (4:00 a.m. – I know, you're having trouble seeing the fun – me, too, truth be told) and the tradition of doing it, and doing it together.


Since living in Arizona, Kanna invites me each year for the big Black Friday shopping bonanza, and each year, after thanking her for including me, I decline.  It's not just that I'm not that much of a shopper – I'm not, though; and it's not just that 12 hours in a mall would probably kill me – it probably would, though; and, it has little to do with the fact that, by Black Friday, nearly all my holiday shopping is done – but it is, though.  You see, I have my own way of spending the day after Thanksgiving.


I traditionally use this bonus day to put out all my Christmas decorations and ready the house for the season.  I have a wide variety of holiday decorations, knickknacks and chotchke that I've amassed over the years; plus, my friend Nancy and her husband, Calvin, have done more than their fair share of adding to my collection of holiday d├ęcor.  There is hardly an available square inch of space in my home that doesn't have a Christmas something, sitting there, beckoning good cheer.  Honestly, if I put price tags on everything that's displayed, my home would look like a gift shop!  Anyway, I am inordinately organized (with just a splash of OCD) so it's probably needless to say, but I have a system.  First, I stash away all my regular stuff, then I wax the furniture, then I bring in the boxes.


These boxes aren't just filled with tangible items – no, they're filled with memories, too.  Memories of decorating my first apartment, memories of chilly holiday shopping in Smithville, and through the nostalgia inspired by my Kinkade (Thomas, not Reuben) Christmas Village, many memories of Christmases past.  The thing is, with all these memories that I routinely unpack, there is one that I never seem to remember until I actually see it again.


I have a very large decorative bowl that I fill each year with red glass ornaments – they're not expensive, in fact, each box was less than five dollars, but they are fragile, and so, to protect them while they're stored away, I have them wrapped in a few sheets of newspaper – a sleeve for each box.  Filling this bowl is one of the first things I do as I begin to adorn the house – and that is when I'm reminded of Danny Aiello.  You may have been wondering when and how Danny was going to enter the picture.  See, there is a feature story about him, accompanied by a large photo, on one of the papers that covers the glass balls.  As I remove the ornaments from the sleeve, I usually smile, and then say to myself, "Ah, another Christmas with Danny Aiello."  Assuming the date on the paper is accurate, and there's no reason to think otherwise, he has been with me for 14 years.  14 years!  At this point, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without him…


You see, we all have our traditions

that keep the holidays hopping –

from turkey on Thanksgiving

to Black Friday shopping.


We have holiday lights and

decorations that charm,

and family trips

to the local tree farm.


We have Christmas wrappings

with ribbons and bows;

tinsel and garland

and Rudolph's nose.


We send greeting cards

to friends far and near;

and sing Christmas carols –

the ones we hold dear.


There's peppermint sticks,

and old St. Nick,

cookies and eggnog

that's creamy and thick.


There's Charlie Brown, Ralphie

and the Baileys, too;

but Christmas wouldn't be Christmas

without you know who…


Baby Jesus was born,

so tiny and small –

for you and for me,

for one and for all.


That's why we celebrate

Christmas each year.

That's why we're filled

with holiday cheer.


So hang up the mistletoe

and roll out the holly, 

Christmas is coming –

it's time to be jolly.


Have a very Merry Christmas –

and a Ho! Ho! Ho!

Warm wishes to you,

From me and Danny Aiello!


Enjoy the season…


 - M