Saturday, December 16, 2017

My Christmas wish: No more strangely joyless holiday music. Please.

I made my annual trip to the mall this morning.  Surprisingly, considering there are only nine shopping days until Christmas, there weren’t many shoppers.

At every store I was accosted by eager salespeople, asking if they could help me find what I was looking for. It was tempting to reply that if I knew what I wanted I would have stayed home and ordered online so I wouldn’t have to listen to the God-awful holiday music blasting over the PA system.

While I'm not religious, I don't mind traditional Christmas hymns like "Silent Night" or "We Three Kings."  In fact, with the exception of "O Holy Night" which was ruined for me forever by Celine Dion, I rather like them. Retailers, of course, won't play hymns lest someone be offended so they play secular songs like "Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" in the mistaken belief such strangely unjoyous songs will put shoppers in a festive (e.g. buying) mood. I contend they actually drive shoppers away and are one more reason amazon and other online retailers are thriving.
The first store I visited was playing Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” Amazingly, it’s the top selling single of all time. I can’t imagine why. A white Christmas is no dream to me. It’s a nightmare. Having lived 30 years in Connecticut, I’ve had my fill of white Christmases, white Easters, white Halloweens, white Thanksgivings, white Valentine’s Days, white St. Patrick’s Days, white Groundhog Days, white Martin Luther King, Jr. Days, white New Year’s Days, white Presidents’ Days, etc. 

One Christmas we awoke to a blizzard that, by noon, had completely buried the barbecue grill and outdoor furniture on our deck. Shortly before we were to sit down to dinner, my wife and I began to feel ill. By mid-afternoon we were in the throes of the worst stomach flu we’ve ever had, at which point the power went out and stayed off for three days. Our house didn't have city water, it had a well. When the power fails, well pumps don't work so there's no running water to drink or, as we discovered to our horror, flush the toilets, which we quickly filled to the brim with stuff I'll refrain from describing in detail but you can imagine if you've ever used an outhouse. We couldn’t even leave the house to go someplace that did have working bathrooms.  We were trapped inside by five feet high snowdrifts. That is one of the many reasons I’m not dreaming of a white Christmas. Any questions?

The PA system of the second store I entered was playing another Der Bingle holiday hit, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” easily the most depressing song ever written.  Every time I hear  it I want to slit my wrists. C’mon readers, let me hear from you. Is there any one of you who genuinely likes that song and looks forward to hearing it roughly five hundred times every holiday season?

“Have Yourself” was followed by another downer of a song, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas" which  was released in 1943 at the height of World War II. The singer is a soldier who says he’ll be home for Christmas, asking his loved ones to make sure there’s snow, mistletoe and presents by the tree when he arrives. But, as it turns out, he’ll be there only in his dreams. “I’ll Be Home” was banned in the U.K.; the BBC felt it was so depressing it might lower the morale of British troops. They were right and, seventy-some years later they’re still right. It lowers my morale every time I hear it.

My last stop was at a store whose PA system was playing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” performed by an unknown artist I can only describe as the absolute worst child singer who ever opened his or her or its mouth. It was so excruciating shoppers were looking up at the ceiling from whence it was coming, shaking their heads and wincing. A shopper browsing next to me announced, “I have to get out of here,” threw the sweater she was planning to purchase back on the shelf, and headed for the exit. Me too.

I left the mall with exactly one gift, a long-sleeved t-shirt. For myself.

And so this year, as I have been doing for the last 10 years or so, I’ll be doing my Christmas shopping online and I'll probably start around noon on December 23rd.  I won’t have to park in the next state, fight last minute crowds, pay sales tax and best of all, be assaulted by strangely joyless Christmas songs.

I will, of course, have to shell out extra money for express delivery by Christmas morning but that’s a small price to pay to shop in heavenly peace.

Friday, December 8, 2017


Dear Congress:

We, the people, have been violated by each and every one of you.

You’ve violated our right to be represented by honest, thoughtful public servants by forcing your members to vote along party lines. 

You’ve violated your responsibilities to provide for our education, health, welfare and safety, pandering instead to the concerns of lobbyists.

You’ve violated our childrens’ and grandchildrens’ futures by spending more than you take in, sentencing them to pick up the tab for your irresponsibility.

You’ve violated your job descriptions by spending as much, if not more, time raising money for your re-election campaigns and political parties than by actually working on our behalf.

You’ve violated our trust by lying repeatedly. We no longer believe anything any of you say.

You’ve done worse than grab our junk or utter innuendos that make us uncomfortable. You’ve violated the very essence what America is supposed to be, a country governed by and for the benefit of its citizens. 

You are a disgrace.

We call on every one of you to do what Al Franken, Trent Franks and John Conyors have done and resign. Today if possible.

Thank you.

The people of America