Taking The Good with the Bad

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I suppose it’s a symptom of being the youngest-born child in my family, but I’ve always had a special fondness for Christmas. Now don’t get me wrong – – I can’t stand the consumerism, and I’d gladly forego the entire getting-and-giving-of-gifts for the rest of my life. And yet there are some sustained pleasures of the season which I wanted to consider as we approach December.

Sturgeon’s Law still holds sway, however, as i does everything in this life, so there is no shortage of awfulness to deal with at the same time. I have, over the many years of this blog’s tenure, written many times about various cultural artifacts of the holiday season, but I thought there would be no harm in sharing a few more off-the-cuff thoughts. This time, in the interest of balance, I wanted to propose five favorite things about the holidays and an equal number of baddies. We’ll start with the good stuff.

Peppermint – seems fairly prosaic, doesn’t it? But peppermint candy, either as a little circle or a cane, is a sweet, crunchy, chewy simple pleasure.

Do You Hear What I Hear?– If you take the entire library of Christmas carols in our culture, some of them are awful, most of them are meh, and a few of them I’ll happily listen to again and again. This is one of the good ones.

The Classic Cartoons– Growing up in the 70s, the annual appearance of the great Christmas classics (most of them from Rankin-Bass) was a highlight of the year. Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch, Frosty, Rudolph……..basically all the good stuff they cranked out in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Eggnog on the Shelves– It seems to be showing up a little earlier each year, but sometime after Halloween, eggnog becomes available in the grocery store. Huzzah.

Decorating the House– I do 100% of this myself, and I don’t mind. Inside and out, I get the house completely decked out and lit up.

OK, enough of the good cheer. What are some items to help balance things out?

Black Friday– I hate crowds. I hate shopping. And I hate consumerism. Throw all three together, and you get this invention of society known as Black Friday. I’ve never participated (obviously), but even viewing it from a distance gives me disgust.

Buying Presents – This is just a pain in the neck. Christmas presents are for kids. No problem there. But why should adults, each equipped with their own credit cards, attempt to guess at what junk other people want in their lives? We can all pay for our own stuff, thanks. It just seems like a ridiculous charade.

The Sequels– Given the success of their Christmas shows, the creators of them (again, principally Rankin Bass) went haywire and made specials about just about any holiday or theme they could find, and these follow-through projects are embarrassingly awful. Even as a youngster, I wanted to pull off the ears off Baby New Year.

Little Drummer Boy – Worst. Song. Ever. Of all the bad Christmas tunes, this is the worst. I cannot imagine why it has persisted all these years. Monotonous. Repetitive. Terrible.

Taking It All Down – By the time MLK Day comes around, I can’t get away with having decorations up anymore, so they all have to come down. It’s a little depressing. Besides just the labor involved, it’s just kind of sad to see it all get boxed up again.

There’s no conclusion from all of this. Just a brain dump. Happy Holidays.

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