Sunday, December 28, 2014

In Search of Christmas

“There'll be parties for hosting,
Marshmallows for toasting,
And caroling out in the snow.
There'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases
long long ago.” – E. Pola

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” – C. Dickens

“Pass Me By
Pass Me By,
If You Don’t Happen to Like it
Pass Me By.” – C. Leigh

You cyber-see before you a man on a holly, ivy and mistletoe mission. Like Leonard Nimoy before me, I go “In Search Of.” Mr. Nimoy pursued unsolved crimes, ancient mysteries, mythological figures, escape from the unyielding annoyance of William Shatner, high syndication ratings and so very often, alien life forms (he was Scientology before Scientology was cool and a show business prerequisite, as witnessed by the unrelated and inappropriate L. Ron Hubbard tribute and float at this year’s Hollywood Christmas parade) whilst nycityman still tracks the tenuous and slippery quarry that is the spirit of Christmas, which to this belated juncture continues to elusively escape me.

I share this personal and potentially tedious and pedantic tale, neither fascinating nor unique, in lieu of the usual politics or societal commentary specifically because of its lack of uniqueness. Enhanced expectations and over-reach of activities leading to inevitable disappointment is as common this time of year as a tone-deaf Mariah Carey live performance of “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

However, before you get the wrong impression, neither Ebenezer nor Henry Potter am I. My affection and expectation of the season of Silver Bells exists almost without borders or boundaries. The late Mr. Williams was absolutely correct; it is indeed “the most wonderful time of the year.” At the juncture when August becomes September my anticipation for Yuletide commences, and as I delve deeper into the autumn of my years, the more I see a calendar divided into but two seasons, summer and then Christmas.  I’ve nary a clue about what happens in the months and weeks in between - perhaps hibernation or perhaps all recollections and experiences are erased and eliminated by some sneaky, effective and loathsome North Korean power. If they have the ability to assure that finally we are no longer required to view zaftig Seth Rogen partially naked each and every day of our modern lives (why are those who should least be publically shirtless always the ones who are? ) then clearly there exists a capacity north of the 38th parallel far beyond our reckoning.

Hot on the cold heels of the New York Mets dropping out of playoff contention (although, in all honesty, that can occur in April) I’m researching recipes for mulled wine, playing Darlene Love on the gramophone and making a list and checking it twice. And there, my festive friends and caroling colleagues is the regretful rub, a holiday season that initiates even prior to JC Penny, Gimbels and EJ Korvettes’ removal of cardboard skeletons and plastic pumpkin decorations from All Hallows.  By the time the proper Yule period rolls around we’ve already been Linus’d and Grinch’d and Rudolph’d beyond reason. No event could live up to the expectation and anticipation of Christmas, not even a romantic rendezvous with Barbara Eden, or in this era, beauteous Welsh warbler, Katherine Jenkins.

You have to admit, Katherine takes a good picture
So, help me. Help me find Christmas.  I seek that childhood feeling when we had the whole week off between Christmas and New Years and the spirit and the season didn’t suddenly expire on the 26th of December.

Outside of the North Pole, I live in, arguably, the finest and most festive locale for Christmas wassailing and wandering, and I take it all in - the store windows, the Rockefeller Center tree, the carolers, the off-key and drunken Salvation Army bell-ringers, the Christmas markets and skating rinks - I’ll even amble into the celebrated and sacrosanct St. Patrick’s Cathedral and I’m a Hell-bound heathen.

And while I appreciate the effort, the sincerity, the intent of those of a more faithful bent who with a Linus penchant might attempt to “sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about… lights, please.” me, I had that indoctrination as a youth and having been there done that, discovered a greater enlightenment in the rejection of such. Christmas to me is not really about the man it was named for but more the canon of Crosby, the lighted decorations, the gatherings and overall good will and spirit of the season.

Could it be that Christmas is more of a nostalgia holiday than a celebration of the present? It’s so much about memories of the past, as opposed to memories you may be making in the here and now – precious recollections of childhood, the troubled sleep of the anticipatory eve, the early awakening to the excited discovery of Santa’s bounty, remembrances of seeming perfection and flawless positivity as now imagined through the hazy filter of time and wishes. As decades pass, faults and frailties fade away and Christmas morns from long ago become sepia-toned Polaroid’s of the Cratchits feasting on a prize goose as tall as Tiny Tim and Ralphie almost shooting his eye out with his much-longed for Red Ryder B.B. gun.

Today is December 28th and I fear that despite all my best efforts, Christmas 2014 has passed me by. If you have any suggestions or Christmas traditions that keep the holiday near and dear to you, please feel free to comment or send an email at the address you will find below. And for now, we all move on to New Year’s Eve, and surely that overly-hyped, capricious commemoration of the arbitrary turning of a calendar page could never disappoint.

As this a special time of year, please enjoy two jaunty melodies beginning with Andy Williams and the classic, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” followed by the Ray Conniff Singers (that’s right, the Ray Conniff singers, just as your dad used to listen to on the “beautiful music” station) performing “Pass Me By” from the film “Father Goose.”

Any comments, questions, criticisms, candid confessions, cash contributions?  Contact me at butchersaprons@mail.com.

1 comment:

  1. I am the Ghost of Christmas Enlightened. Christmas has passed you by because you have no children. But never fear NYCityman. Being a man, the world is your oyster and you can still have children basically up until the moment you croak. Actually you can have children even after you croak but you can only make them up until the moment you croak. So have a kid and you will rediscover the xmas you think you have lost. I have spoken.