These days, the old fogey in me is looking forward to New Year's, the first crippling blizzard, the first time the sunset is at 5:00pm, filing my income taxes, and St. Patrick's Day. Heck, I'm ready for the first day of over 90 degree weather with a dewpoint of 75.
Why, you ask?
I like Christmas. I hate the hype.
The relentless Christmas songs, sung by people of mediocre talent, just for another paycheck.
Christmas marketing pushed ever so farther back that Christmas sales begin in August (which actually wouldn't be a bad idea - putting the fourth of July and Christmas together kills two birds with one stone).
Enough tinsel and pine trees to put a Broadway set designer into a sulk for years.
Atheists screaming that Christmas is too religious. Christians screaming that Christmas has become too secular.
People making total fools of themselves on Black Friday, snatching up garbage "because it's cheap." Anti-consumerists going into long, self-indulgent speeches about corporations.
The constant shoving of Christmas into the faces of people who don't want it or don't want to be reminded of it. "Remember your Uncle Pat who once weighed 350 pounds and wasted away to 150 due to cancer with this Chia Pet!" "If you don't buy this $900 stereo, the terrorists have won."
And schools? Someone with a sore across their buttocks manages to get themselves in the news for suspending a student saying "Merry Christmas," or alters Christmas songs to something so unrecognizable, it might as well be sung by a thrash metal artist.
Everyone who participates in this ridiculously obnoxious Christmas circus must go home. Take your red-and-green pom-poms elsewhere, preferably with someone who kills "Silent Night" and not in a favorable way.
For those of you who don't buy into the hype, who eschew all its garish trappings, this is for you.
When you believe the real meaning of Christmas - the one with not just holy reverence, but one that not only encourages celebration, includes reflection of the year, remembrance of times and people past, and a resolution to do better in the next year - everything else is filler.
There will always be people who we will miss (living or late), pain (physical or emotional), conflict (armed and unarmed), debt, poverty, and other unpleasant things during the holidays. The things that happen every single day do not stop during the holidays.
Even if you have a deity other than God and/or Christ, or believe in no deity at all, the holidays are more like a pause button. One day to give thanks to your deity, or to celebrate Festivus, or simply to enjoy solitude, won't hamper those who celebrate Christmas.
Once December 26 rolls around, though, those who have been high on the Christmas hype will be forced to come down to earth. The hype will be gone, until Harvey Leonard sees a "major coastal storm with snow measured in feet."
Then the hype for bread, eggs and milk to make French Toast will be upon us.
I was pretty much caught off-guard by this question. I didn't want to say anything flip or rude, so I blurted something out fast, like "Thankful I'm alive."
Back in June 9, 1989, I was working at what was Crown Shoes over on Hyde Park Avenue and getting change from what was then the Suffolk Franklin bank. I was crossing the street and I got hit by a car.
To say that Someone Upstairs was keeping an eye out for me was an understatement. I walked - yes, walked - away with two stitches in my head (the only pain I felt was the lidocaine burning and numbing my head) and numerous scrapes. I was well over six feet then, but anyone smaller would have easily been dead.
When it came to that revelation, it was one resting in my subconscious until it got jostled by accident. Awaking the slumbering part of my life that was bad at one moment but turned out very lucky, as it were. Sidney Friedman, the MASH psychiatrist played wonderfully by Allan Arbus, would be the one sitting in front of me, asking why I said that, and then after recounting what happened, would drolly say, "It's funny how what happened earlier in life comes back at the strangest times."
So I am thankful I'm alive. And I am forever grateful Someone Upstairs thought I wasn't ready for wings yet on June 9, 1989.
UPDATE 11/20/2014: In a 2-1 vote, the Health Board declined the ban on smoking.
For the past couple of months, we've all heard of the political ads that tells viewers that candidate "A" is "too extreme", candidate "B" is "not for us," and that "we will all lose" if candidate "C" is elected. And vote no on Question 19, unless you want to conjure the ghost of Buddy Hackett, and make sure you vote yes on Question 11B, otherwise the deep pocketed vending machine interests have won.
The PACs (political action committees and lobbies who designed these ads will be the real winners in this election, not the elected or voters. Their super-slick PR packages would put the hardest Type A advertisers to shame. They also fund robo-calls, push polls, flyers, and other obnoxious materials. I've gotten to the point where I ignore the ads and change to something else.
It would be very satisfying to tell these groups to "buzz off" (and in even less polite terms) but so long as we have desperate politicians who when the summer began had a comfortable 30 point lead but now are at a dead head, or we have political operatives who fear their influence - along with their own jobs - will end along with their bosses', the onslaught of mudslinging will continue.
What if these ads were actually honest? You would have ads telling the public they're only interested in being rent seekers on their own constituents; you would have ads telling the public they spend money on their own interests and whoever seeks favors; you would have ads saying "I'm really a socialist/fascist, but because I would be seen as an unelectable fringe candidate, I'll lie my way in as a Party A/B candidate until I'm elected, and then I'll vote any damn way I please."
To be honest in those senses is not to be a politician at all. In fact, a few months in office with mindset would be grounds for recall, if not indictment.
I actually had two meetings with Mayor Menino, both when he was a city councillor: once, when he handed my diploma in 1990, and the other when he visited my grandparents personally in 1993 in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary.
Depending on your feelings for the former mayor, he was either the savior of Boston or the hardest politician to get through. He was skilled in getting things done, even though it seemed he was talking through PlayDoh. If something didn't please Menino, he blocked it until it benefited everyone.
His finest hours were when the city needed him most: the Marathon bombings, major snowstorms, even outside of the public eye. To serve twenty years as major is a feat that no other mayor in this nation can replicate - not even the notorious James Curley can speak to that kind of longevity.
His health - cancer, especially - was the one thing that the mayor could not negotiate or bargain with, even though he tried with an iron will. The city of Boston will be forever in his debt for making it better.
The Top 30 Gold Survey
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