“A Merry Christmas, Uncle! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew…” “Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!” – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Certain persons who shall go nameless because of threats of “reprisals” or “divorce” or something have been urging the Idler to lay off the wise-guy stuff and try to say something more positive in keeping with the “Spirit of Christmas” and all like that-there. This is not easy for several reasons:


1) The stores have been piling on the Christmas bushwah since the day after Labor Day. It’s been a long grim merchandising haul and even if you were able to ignore it until after Thanksgiving, either by avoiding intensely commercial areas or by strategically heavy drinking, you have to face it in time to do some shopping. Speaking of which, . . .

2) If you played your credit cards right, you’re probably up to your keisters in gifts and your eyeballs in debt. Don’t forget to include the “gift receipt” because they’ll probably return the stuff you selected with such great care for something more stylish and in much better taste. On second thought, just give them some money. You won’t have so much wrapping to do.

3) Some terrorist lunatics will snap you out of your tidings of comfort and joy and straight back to harsh reality with a strategically timed attack on people who until then were probably feeling just as merry as you were.

4) The election. Because one or more of your friends or relatives has taken it personally.

5) The Ravens game. Because it’s a game and it’s on Christmas. Against the Ravens.

That’s right, we’re getting our Ebeneezer on and it ain’t pretty. But that’s not to say there aren’t some strong arguments on the holly-jolly side. If you can get past the hard sell TV ads and the saccharine holiday cards, there’s this:

1) Sometimes the “right” gift can make a great deal of difference in someone’s life. We personally feel that you can’t go wrong with a fifth of good bourbon. Or let’s say you notice that your spouse is struggling with an old fashioned snow shovel. Without letting on what you have in mind, go down to the home and building supply store and buy her a shiny sparkling brand new shovel!

2) Go to church. We’re not trying to push any special religion on you, but you have to admit, the carols they sing this time of year are awesome, and some of those choirs can really tear them off.  Hey, people go to the symphony to hear Handel’s “Messiah” with and without any religious affiliation, right? The best part is you can sing along with all the “Alleluia’s” and  ‘fa-la-la-la-la’s” and “Glo-o-o-o-o-o-ria’s” and no one will tell you to shut up. I don’t think they’re allowed to. Also they don’t charge admission, at least the last time I checked. When the basket comes around, just pretend you dropped a cufflink or something. They say singing is good for your health, too, even if you stink at it. Grab a hymnal and go nuts.

3) Ask a kid. They’re not yet overwhelmed by the commercialization or burnt out by the mandatory preparation drills. They’re enjoying all the sights and sounds and smells and holding on tight to the Christmas story. That’s why Santa brings them stuff and you get bupkus. Also he knows you were faking it about the cufflink.  Remember, it wasn’t Bob Cratchit who turned Scrooge around so much as Tiny Tim.

4) Practice your acting skills. When you unwrap the present from your aunt and it turns out to be a fanny pack in what look like Browns’ colors, you need to turn in an academy award performance, even while the rest of the family is horror-stricken. Pretty sure that’s how Brad Pitt got his start.

Kinda looks like a tossup. That Dickens fellow started one book with, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” A lot of people might say that describes Christmas for them, but we don’t think it has to be that way. It can be the best of times if we slow it up, turn down the volume and take a look at all the good things that surround us. We’ll take the last line of another Dickens classic and say to our friends and family, and to our Valley Mirror buddies and readers, “God bless us, every one.”

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