Because things seem just too stressful to think about for longer than 15 seconds these days, let’s look back instead. Just in time for the holidays, I give you: The Top Ten Things I Miss about Christmas
10) Mandarins in my Christmas stocking. Those just say “lumps of coal” to today’s kids. Back then, mandarins were rather rare, and getting one was a real treat. No, we didn’t have Christmas-colored Snickers mini-bars back then, kids. Or even M&M’s.
“Wow, Gramma, you are soooo old.”
Here, have a mandarin.
9) Ray Conniff Christmas albums. We called them “albums,” and they weren’t for photos. They were vinyl records that hissed and scratched and skipped, and at Christmas time, they played that unmistakable “Conniff sound”: pure cheese. If you don’t know what musical cheese sounds like, you can find Conniff on You Tube. There’s one thing that’s still just as I remember. Truly, wonderfully awful!
8) Candy canes. Show of hands: Who else sucked them down into a point to create a potentially lethal weapon? Yeah, sure, I could still use candy as a weapon if I wanted to, but that’s what keyboards are for.
7) Hand-knitted booties. Every Christmas, my Great Aunt Lily would hand-knit booties for my sister and I. Red with white tops, always the same size, even if we grew. I always thought those booties were so lame and I thought Aunt Lily was kind of lame too because she rarely spoke, and when she did, it was in Italian. In retrospect, I now realize that hand-knitted booties are another way of saying “I love you” in Italian. One positive thing about aging: it shows you what a jerk you used to be.
6) Stella D’oro cookies — squares, rounds, flowers, crescent moons. They disappeared several years ago, and were recently reintroduced. They look similar, and taste sorta kinda okay, but they’re not the Stella D’oros of my youth — probably because the originals were loaded with yummy trans fats.
5) Annual Christmas TV specials. Remember when there were no video players, no DVRs? You had to plan to watch a TV special or wait another year for it to roll back around. Time management and patience were survival skills in the ’60s. Waiting and waiting for “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to come back around was part of the ritual of the approaching holiday season.
I still love those shows, and I’ll still watch them if they pop up on TV, and do the “Purple Dress Girl dance” to “Linus and Lucy” and reach for a tissue when Claireese sings “There’s Always Tomorrow.” (Side note: WHY was the dolly banished to the Island of Misfit Toys? What was wrong with her? Just one of my childhood unsolved mysteries.) And I can sing right along to “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” but this year, I’ll replace “Grinch” with “Trump.”
“You’re a mean one, Mr. Trump
“You really are a heel
“You’re as cuddly as a cactus, you’re as charming as an eel, Mr. Trump
“You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel!”
OK, the rhyming sucks, but the exquisite, synchronistic perfection of the lyrics mitigates it. If you’re in an “Oh my GOD, I can’t take three more years of this” slump, go sing the Grinch song to Mr. Trump!
4) Lethal Christmas decorations. Remember that good old heavy tinsel we used to throw over our Christmas trees? Full of lead. Just like our toys! And angel hair, that spider-webby film we threw over the tinsel? Spun fiberglass. Wonderful for rubbing right into the eyes. Top that off with a little toxic spray snow, complete with ozone-melting aerosol, and fa la la la la, consider those halls decked!
Almost. The job wasn’t done until Mom handed us a can of
3) Pink glass wax to make stencils on the windows. Nothin’ says Christmas lovin’ like handing the kiddos a can of carcinogens! I still remember what it smells like, and what it felt like to get high before I even knew what high meant. Also, where can I get that stuff? I need to stencil a Trump Grinch on my window.
2) Big, hot, energy-sucking Christmas lights. Just like cookies and decorations, the new energy efficient LED light strings are nice, but not as nice as the originals that would blister your fingers and turn your Christmas tree into a torch if you weren’t careful.
Where’s the sport in a safe Christmas tree?
The old-fashioned ones created a warm Christmas glow, as compared to the new ones, which make a harsh Christmas glare. Then there were bigger versions for stringing on rooftops, and they made halos of colored light in our lovely thick tule fog… so charming compared to all this gaudy stuff on front lawns, from obnoxious, noisy towering blow-up snowmen to those stupid little reindeer with built-in Christmas lights. If you wake up and find your lighted reindeer doing the naughty, well, it’s just my way of saying “Happy Holidays!”
But of all the stuff I remember about Christmas of days gone by, the Number One spot goes to:
1) Lethal toys. The best stuff on Christmas morning was also the stuff most likely to cause great bodily harm: Slinkies — wound coils of sharp metal for slicing the skin… Easy Bake Ovens with a hot lightbulb for quick and easy third-degree burns… Creepy Crawlers — let’s give the kids a scalding hot cooker and tubes of chemicals. Will they get burned or poisoned first? Let’s find out! And everyone’s playground favorite, Klik Klaks — a pair of huge, heavy resin boulders on strings that you flung up and down until they clacked together or broke both bones in your forearms, whichever came first.
No wonder kids today are so soft — the herd isn’t getting culled anymore by deadly toys.
Anyways, Happy Holidays, everyone.
And keep an eye on those reindeer.