Monday, December 6, 2010

We Need A Little Christmas

My neighbors were out in force this weekend decorating their houses for Christmas. I got the yearly flyer, printed on seasonal green paper, reminding me of (a) the holiday progressive dinner, (b) the tradition "many, many years old" of placing one dozen luminaries in front of each house thereby "creating an unbroken chain of light" throughout the neighborhood on Christmas Eve, and (c) the equally ancient tradition of putting a large red bow on every mailbox.

Last year, my daughter was across the street helping our dear friends place and light their luminary candles at the curb, when Dr. Z exclaimed, "I wish I knew what imbecile thought this one up!" Katharine could hardly contain herself and ran home to tell the imbecile - also known as Mom - what he said. We laughed so hard we nearly knocked over the dinner table. The progressive dinner was also my idea, as were the beribboned mailboxes. Back those "many many years" there were only about 50 houses and I was president of the Homeowners Association. I also started a Fourth of July Parade with bikes and wagons and baby strollers festooned with streamers and balloons and other red, white and blue do-dads and froo-froo. It culminated at the park with a huge picnic and super games like "Dunk The Dads." (Getting enough dads to agree to being dunked was one of the most difficult tasks of my administration). Apparently, as the years rolled on it became more difficult to get people organized; the 4th of July party was dropped. But while it lasted, it was great fun.

But getting back to Christmas. Christmas is not my favorite holiday. I far prefer Halloween and Thanksgiving. In fact, I far prefer just an ordinary day. The beauty of Christmas, and its true meaning, has gotten so lost it has become almost foreign to it. Inevitably, the hawking started even before the trick and treaters came ringing the doorbell. The odious commercials of the Lexus sitting on the driveway with a big red bow attached to the roof run several times an hour. Now, in all fairness, this year's commercials include the suggestion that a lower end automobile, such as a Kia, are also acceptable. You such a bad economy we are allowed to make such concessions.

Thinking through all the Christmases I've lived through, I tried to remember if I have ever ever known someone who woke up on Christmas morning to a Lexus sitting on the driveway with a big red bow attached to its roof? No one came to mind. To whom are these commericals directed, I wonder. Why stop at a Lexus? Why not a private jet, or a swiss chalet, or a rocketship? Why not King Tut's death mask or the Hope Diamond? With expectations as magnanimous as that, what chance does the hand-knitted scarf or the bath gel have, you might ask? If you're lucky, and the people on your gift list are the right sort, the scarf and bath gel will be received with happy joy, and not one of the dear ones will expect a Lexus. I am as lucky as that. Nevertheless, the tinsel is losing its shine and I wish the hawkers and hype-sters would simply leave Christmas alone. Go sell something else.

Well, I really didn't come here to talk about Christmas at all. What I wanted to do was steal a meme from Baker's Daughter, who in turn borrowed it from Litlove. Caterwauling about Christmas was simply a tangent brought about by one of my...

10 Best Friends From Literature:

Mame Dennis, Auntie Mame. Because we all (even a Grinch such as myself)need a little Christmas every now and then - if we're being perfectly honest. Besides, she throws a great party.

Winnie The Pooh, "If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you." No explanation necessary.

Nancy Drew, she solves mysteries and drives a blue roadster convertible. She also has a handsome single father who would be a very cool date...for me!

Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird. Because sometimes you simply need a lawyer you can trust - or a Will that can't be broken.

Scarlett O'Hara, Gone With The Wind. Yes, she is selfish and willful and narcissistic, but she'll always land on her feet. A very practical friend to have.

Jean Valjean, Les Miserables. To remind me of redemption of the soul.

Glinda, The Good Witch Of The South, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. "She knows how to keep young in spite of the many years she's lived." I figured she'd also be able to get me back home should I ever get lost.

Severus Snape, Harry Potter Series. He knows how to yield a mean wand; and, I saw through to his goodness right from the start.

Sir Simon, The Canterville Ghost. Dear, sweet ghost...because he helps us understand "what Life is, what Death signifies, and why Love is stronger than both."

Black Beauty, Black Beauty. But not for what he might bring to me. We would explore our little world together. I'd feed him apples and sugar cubes and tell him he is the most beautiful horse that ever lived. He would have a warm place to sleep and sunny fields in which to run. No one would ever abuse him again; I'd make up for all of it and I'd always be ten years old. The same age I was when we first met.

It is hard to limit these friends to ten. Impossible, really. It's like trying to choose a favorite child. But here are the ones that spring immediately to mind. The others will, I pray, forgive me and not keep me up all night demanding to know why they didn't make the cut. They can be a pesky bunch.


  1. I had trouble coming up with 10 literary BFFs so I ended up skipping this top ten. You've got some nice ones on your list though!

  2. I love this list of friends! Auntie Mame is a brilliant idea, and how I would have longed to be Nancy Drew's friend when I was a girl... Wonderful.

    I'm right with you on feeling that Christmas has been ruined by commercialism. Given that I have to buy Christmas, cook it, wrap it and assemble it, I get very little joy out of it. So I've decided this year to get into some very different reading. I'm reading up on Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, founding fathers of the church. I'm not particularly religious, but I wanted something different and something to put Christmas in a different light. Then I thought I would read some fairy tales, and some novels about myths and legends, numinous reading, you know? We'll see how it goes.

  3. Red, limiting the list to ten is so unfair. I feel as though I've slighted Heidi, and Jim Hawkins (Treasure Island), and Hans Brinker (Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates). Now, as I sit here, I feel especially guilty about Hans. So, I'll add an 11th: Hans Brinker, who won something much more important than the race.

    Litlove, I might take your lead and read something more condusive to the true meaning of Christmas. If we let the sellers rob us of Christmas, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. What a great post, Christmas rant and literature friends list (I'm stealing this meme!! Too good!)! Totally agree about Nancy Drew . . . and Christmas commercialism. I try to focus on Love and family, but it takes work (which it really shouldn't).

  5. Inkslinger, I probably should have named Ebenezer Scrooge as one of my best buds in literature...but, of course, he was redeemed and became a Christmas-goody-two-shoes! :>

  6. Your Christmat grump had me laughing. I don't have a TV so I miss all the holiday commercials. But I don't know anyone who has ever gotten any kind of car with a big red bow on it for Christmas. I've been thinking about my literary fiends and Pooh will be making an appearance on my list too. For a Bear of very little Brain he has always seemed rather smart to me.

  7. I'd like to be best friends with Mr. and Mrs. North (well, maybe just Mrs.) so we could solve crimes while drinking cocktails in an affordable New York City. I LOVE your neighborhood holiday traditions! I hope your Christmas is cozy and uncommercial and full of characters as fun as those in the books you've mentioned.

  8. I'm so glad you did this meme! And you have two characters that I contemplated and then discarded because I was positive I'd just end up falling in love with them, which would be a sure-fire way to wreck a good friendship (nb. Winnie the Pooh is not one of them, though that quote made me strangely teary. And then your Black Beauty comments made me actually cry outright. Too much wine on a wednesday night perhaps...)

    PS. I would hate to get a Lexus for Xmas - there's nothing worse than mechanical or electrical goods.

    PPS. I have to confess that I have made no pprogress at all with your cryptogram. Clearly I am an idiot - though I did manage to complete my first ever cryptic crossword today- not one square missing!

  9. Tinky, I would absolutely adore knowing the Norths!! Wouldn't a cockatil party at their place be the best thing ever? And the luminaries look lovely on Christas Eve. The neighborhood goes walking at about 6:00 p.m., just before dinner, with their glasses of cheer to look at the lights and to wish each other Merry Christmas.

    Bakers Daughter, is there such a thing as too much wine? I'm always confused by recipes that say, "use leftover wine," as if there are people out there who have such a thing. It's a little like being the last person on the planet with a cell phone (which I believe I was, having only had one for about 20 months now.) I want so badly to give you a huge hint on the cryptogram. SPOILER ALERT: The most used letter in the English language is "e". Find it, and then find a pattern that looks like it could be "the." Then take it from there.

  10. Auntie Mame makes the party! Wish I'd thought of that. Is it too late for me to RSVP, or at least be a server?

    But isn't there some sort of galactic loophole that says Severus and Glinda can't be in the same place at the same time? I think some guy names Heisenberg said that.

    Anyway, don't worry about limiting it to 10. All of us with lists live on the same block ... and I nominate you as our Block Captain for the big bash!

    Keep doing great things!

  11. Awww the bit about Black Beauty made me so happy. He would have a lovely life with you.

    I like the description of the Christmas traditions you put in place, especially the red bows. Although the light sounds more solemn and symbolic I really like a fat, red bow.

  12. Read Heavily, we should all be so lucky to have a Mame Dennis in our lives. What fun we would have! Can you just imagine who we'd meet at one of her parties! As for Block Captain, I will humbly accept and glady serve! Let the good times roll.

    Jodie, the luminary are the special part. At 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve everyone places one dozen lighted luminary along the curb in front of their homes. And then most of us take strolls (glasses in hand) along the lighted path and call out Merry Christmas to each other. I know I'm making it sound sacchrine, but believe it or not, it is very "Dickens Christmas-like." I guess that's why it's lasted over 20 years. It's just one small thing, but we'd surely miss it if it went away.

  13. Oh my god, Auntie Mame! One of all-time my favourite characters. My childhood fantasies of being delivered to Auntie Mame are still so clear and dear to me I can still barely say her name without choking.

  14. Maja, I must call you out on one of your responses:
    "Severus Snape, Harry Potter Series. He knows how to yield a mean wand; and, I saw through to his goodness right from the start."

    You left out the little itty bit about how you think the man (and character Snape) is just 'shut your mouth dead sexy!'

    :)with my wine in hand, here's to you meeting you're Severus Snape! God knows you deserve it, you cutie patootie!;)