Aaron’s Christmas Playlist 2016

1. Frosty the Snowman by Fiona Apple
2. We Wish You a Merry Christmas by Booker T and the Mars
3. Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You by Billy Squier
4. Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses
5. Christmas Song by Mogwai
6. Christmas Treat by Julian Casablancas
7. This Christmas by Donny Hathaway
8. O Holy Night by Weezer
9. Get Down for the Holidays by Jenny O.
10. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (remix) by Kay Starr
11. Wonderful Christmastime by Sir Paul McCartney
12. Please Come Home for Christmas by The Eagles
13. Christmas in Hollis by Run DMC
14. Father Christmas by The Kinks
15. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town by Bruce Springsteen
16. White Christmas by Iggy Pop
17. Silent Night by Dinah Washington
18. White Christmas by The Drifters
19. 2000 Miles by Pretenders
20. Santa’s Beard by They Might Be Giants
21. Just Like Christmas by Low
22. We Three Kings by The Reverend Horton Heat
23. Whatever Happened to Christmas by Aimee Mann
24. We Wish You A Merry Christmas by Shonen Knife
25. I Did It For The Toys by Dance Hall Crashers
26. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band
27. Winter Wonderland by Macy Gray
28. Ain’t no Chimneys in the Projects by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
29. Someday at Christmas by Stevie Wonder
30. Run Rudolph Run by Chuck Berry
31. Oi to the World by No Doubt
32. Christmas Feeling Ska by Toots and the Maytals
33. Feliz Navidad by José Feliciano
34. Do The Know It’s Christmas by Bare Naked Ladies
35. Sleigh Ride by The Boston Pops Orchestra
36. Christmastime by Smashing Pumpkins
37. Who’s Up there by Bhi Bhiman
38. The Christmas Waltz by SOAK
39. Ave Maria by Born Cages
40. Christmas Alone by YACHT
41. Jingle Bells by Avid Dancer
42. New Year’s Day by Turin Brakes
43. Champagne (I’m Ready) by Lisa Loeb
44. Surviving Christmas by Sondre Lerche & Jherek Bischoff
45. Donuts in the Snow by The Reverend Horton Heat
46. It’s Only Christmas by Moon Taxi
47. Christmas with You by Fruit Bats
48. Christmastime by Rogue Wave
49. Silent Night by Wild Child
50. Jingle Bells by Crash Test Dummies

Christmas 2014

We were across the street at 1030 on the nose. More or less. Kids, grownups, dawgs, grandparents. We ate sticky buns and drank coffee and exchanged gifts. Then we retreated to the farm to finish the carnage, of which the aftermath is pictured in the thumbnail above. Yes, it is clickable.

Gosh the panoramic camera is cool.

I was scheduled to work in the afternoon, but I think I got to make the most out of my Christmas morning.

Among my most intriguing gifts was the Brookstone Perfect Bake from my brother. Thing looks like a heck of a way to nail down some baking essentials. Can’t wait to play with it. My Mom picked away from the Amazon wishlist, and I got all kinds of tea accessories, a loose tea sampler, and a great seasonal cookbook, several other books to add to the reading list, and not to mention a snappy denim shirt.

Quite a haul indeed.

I was fortunate that a kindly chef was working today at the company store. He prepared quite a nice pot roast with rice pilaf and vegetables. Cuz there is NOTHING open today unless you want to survive on Doritos and powdered donuts.

We will extend the Christmas to tomorrow with a ham dinner and scalloped potatoes, as tomorrow is my Saturday as usual. That is all.

Christmas Eve 2014

We basically have two areas of low pressure, the first one off to the west with some colder air, and the second one bringing a whole lot of Gulf moisture, and this is really what’s impacting our weather.

That’s what the lady on the TV said last night. And, what it means, essentially, is NO SNOW FOR YOU.

I reckon we’ll get by. I opted not to dispatch my PTO for this portion of the holiday season, so I’m at work Christmas Eve and Christmas Night anyways. Lucky for me, the family opted to do a nice dinner on Friday rather than Thursday so I can eat too. That was nice of them. And I’m still gonna be there Christmas morning in my jammies, believe me you.

On the plus side, for once all of the shopping and wrapping were finished last weekend. That’s unusual for me. I found that if I employed two countering strategies for Christmas shopping, I could do better. Strategy 1: List the people I need to buy for and things they might like. Strategy 2: Go to weird stores, preferably in unfamiliar settings.

Another strategy: While you might not want to go out on “Black Friday” amidst the crowds, make use of it anyway. At least let its passing light a fire under your butt to make you get something done. If not Thursday, go get something done Saturday, at least.

One of these strategies is not as effective without the other. And so I did better this year, though gift-giving is not a strength of mine. It’s a matter of making the mountain of it seem too insurmountable, and so I inevitably procrastinate. I think I did okay this year. We’ll find out in the morning, won’t we?

Merry Merry Christmas

Wherever you are, whoever you are, I’d like to kick off this holiday season by wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas.

I was a child reared in the full ecstasies of this fine holiday, just like you probably were. We had the tree, with the ornaments, many of which I made out of egg cartons, glitter, and glue. We had stockings. I spent as many hours as possible watching television specials regarding the mythology of one Santa Claus and the other usual suspects, such as Rudolph, such as Frosty the Snowman, and all the rest of them. I think this mythology captured and haunted me most of all.

Through all of it, through all of the slipper socks and hot chocolate, and the fine, fine bicycle I received one year (denim-themed, I believe, with a banana seat, that bike is probably still being tooled around on by some young cousin I’ve never met in Scammon, Kansas), there are themes that come through to a young, impressionable mind. Universal themes. Peace. Love. Goodwill.

There were other mythologies that were not at work in my house. I was reared without religion. My parents did not have me study the Bible growing up. The first time I experienced the Bible, I think I was 6, and I was tagging along for Sunday school with friends after a sleep-over. And this batty old lady was going on about this old guy who built this big boat when it started raining or something. I was all like, huh?

I have to my ripe old age of 44 maintained a belief in secular humanism, or, as some might call it, “atheism,” and I have had reason recently to feel reinforced in that belief. This is not from a lack of seeking. I have read and studied the Bible. I have prayed. I have attended religious observances of many flavors, from Seders to Catholic services to Christian Science, and just for shits and giggles, I have cast a few circles under the full moon. At this point, this is where I have landed. The genesis story I put faith in sounds like this: Billions of years ago, something happened. And then space, time, and matter existed.

It doesn’t really sound that much different from the one in that book, actually.

Anyway, I can tell you that a secular kid can have some trouble with the whole Christmas thing during his development, at least, that was my experience. I was conflicted, though there was no reason to be. Because there has been and is a growing cultural meme that Christmas is some sort of exclusive club, and that only those who believe in the Christ need bother. I mean, look what we’ve already got this year from Maureen “Pat” Robertson, commenting on a brush up they had in Santa Monica over a public Nativity scene. Santa Monica had to end up scrapping the whole thing because last year the Atheists won like 80 percent of the available booths in the lottery they had, and that only after protesting for years that a public forum needs room for those voices.

The Grinch is trying to steal our holiday. It’s been so beautiful, the nation comes together, we sing Christmas carols, we give gifts to each other, we have lighted trees and it’s just a beautiful thing. Atheists don’t like our happiness. They don’t want you to be happy. They want you to be miserable. They’re miserable so they want you to be miserable. So they want to steal your holiday away from you.

I have news for Pat. In the United States, most nonbelievers also at least acknowledge Christmas. I, for one, celebrate it with full throat.

In 2010, Lifeway Research polled that: “…nine in 10 Americans (91 percent) personally celebrate Christmas and those aren’t all self-identified Christians. A majority of agnostics or those claiming no preference (89 percent), individuals claiming other religions (62 percent), and even atheists (55 percent) celebrate Christmas along with 97 percent of Christians.”

I’m not sure that Lifeway liked its own results. But it indicates to me anyway that Christmas is too grand and too universal to be considered only in the light of the Nativity. It is, I think, our nation’s winter holiday as a whole. I have come to the conclusion that there should be no reason to wrinkle one’s nose when wished a Merry Christmas instead of a more generic Happy Holidays. There should be no reason. But there is. There is, because each year Bill O’Reilly does his segments on the “war on Christmas,” and because there is always this perennial tug-of-war and statements of the notion that if you’re a non-believer, you don’t deserve to decorate that tree.

I think it’s a shame. Because Christmas, considered as a national, all-inclusive holiday with powerful stories and themes of generosity and noble intentions, is a far more powerful and joyous holiday than one that keeps pointing fingers and lecturing about the “reason for the season.”

So. Merry Christmas. I myself can’t wait.

‘Tis the Season to Be Jelly

On today, the eighth day of the exalted holiday known as Zappadan, which is really going great gangbusters, guys, it is time for what is becoming an annual rant about that other holiday, that of Christmas.

You know, Ted Baxter’s moronic pronouncements of the liberals’ “war on Christmas” just occur earlier and earlier every year.

This year, he started in even before Samhain, having that blonde Frankenstein on his show to pitch yet another hateful, evil book about how much liberals hate Christmas. It’s awful. And, it’s wrong. So. Let’s roll out the truth yet again about who, exactly, is pooping all over Christmas.

Christmas is a holiday so old and rooted in so much ancient history that the urge to celebrate has likely by now been scrubbed into human DNA. Ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia on Dec. 17. Scandinavian Pagans celebrated Yule. Christmas itself is referenced in print as early as 354 CE. Celebrations and praise at wintertime go way back with humanity; such holidays are likely as old as agriculture. Which makes sense. In winter, you roll out your stocked goods and party because you had a pretty darned good harvest. Thanks to the gods and whatnot.

Now. Believe it or not, there was a time when Christmas wasn’t such a big friggin’ deal in these Untied States of America. In the mid-1600s, you’d get a five-shilling fine in Boston for celebrating it. And the Revolution put a bad taste in our mouths regarding anything that seemed kind of English, so they weren’t too crazy about it in the late 1700s, either. But in 1819, Washington Irving, the 19th century’s Steven Spielberg, wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., which included stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house and which reflected on Christmas as a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status. By 1870, Congress and President Grant at last declared it a legal federal holiday, along with New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Independence Day.

My point: This country did not come to Christmas out of a profound need to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. It came to Christmas because humans and nations require a vast winter holiday. And it did not choose Christmas because we were of the Lord. It chose Christmas because we were of England.

I was reared with no consideration of God, and for the most part, I retain this belief system today. Yet, I was reared with Christmas, and I continue to celebrate it every year. We had the tree, the presents, the family, the fellowship, Santy Claus, yeah, we did all of that. And we weren’t bashful about wishing anyone a Merry Christmas.* See, in these Untied States of America, Christmas is supposed to be the inclusive, national secular holiday that we can share with our friends, our neighbors, and our families. But some folks, and I’ll betcha our bloated friend over at Fox “News” is one of them, just can’t have that.

“Political correctness” isn’t what saps the joy out of this holiday season. It’s the “remember the reason” assclowns.

Look, folks. The more you insist on dragging your church’s crap all out in to our Public Square, the more Nativity scenes you insist on erecting, the more you tut-tut if someone abbreviates it to “x-mas,” the less inclusive our treasured national holiday is allowed to be. So our Jewish friends over there, they’re made to feel all weird about Christmas and Hanukkah, which isn’t even their Main Event anyways, and so then your Wal-Mart greeters have to start saying “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings,” and then Ted Baxter’s enormous bloated head fills up more with steam.

I guess what I’m saying is, why can’t these people just shut the hell up and let us all stand back and look at how pretty the tree is?

It’s Christmas.

*Though, to be fair, I did grow up in a somewhat more homogeneous community than where I live these days.

Merry Christmas

I have just gotten back from a lovely Christmas in Rochester, N.Y. That is one hell of a drive, and the rain and snow and wind make it all the more pleasant. I was of course in a happy place in both directions, thanks to The History of Howard Stern, Act II, playing all this week on the Sirius/XM. I love this stuff, though I wish they’d just play the damned tapes already. But the History specials are awesome. It fills in a lot for me since this Cleveland boy could only be a listener from 1992.

Music is always a big part of the holidays at my Dad’s. I am entirely too predictible a gift giver, always handing over the telling-shaped box that makes them sarcastically say “Oh, I wonder what this is?” With Dad it’s always Zappa, and this year was no exception as he received a CD of Broadway the Hard Way. I am pleased with the purchase but displeased as with many Zappa CDs that the order was meddled with when it went digital. Track order on the vinyl was much different and made more sense. I will never understand why Zappa felt the need to meddle with his stuff so horribly.

“Spare Me A Little,” Johnny Rivers, New Lovers and Old Friends
“A Jacknife to a Swan,” Mighty Mighty Bosstones, A Jacknife to a Swan