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When asked to submit an essay on Christmas gift ideas, it seemed that my list would be things I do not want. So, instead of a bumper crop of Christmas goodies, here’s a list of Christmas baddies: my twelve pet Christmas hates.

1. Shopping. Do we really need more junk? I’m fed up with all the stuff we have. I can’t even think of anything to buy anybody. We have everything we need. Why are these storage places cropping up all over America? My wife helps old people downsize, and its her theory that Americans already have so much stuff that their house, garages, attics, and basements are already full so they need to rent storage warehouses for more of their treasure. It’s like we have all become a nation of Smaugs—dragons crouching on our treasure troves.

2. Christmas carols. There are some sweet carols about the Nativity of Our Lord, but the secular carols wear me out. “Frosty the Snowman”? “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”? City sidewalks? Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Who roasts chestnuts on an open fire? Jack Frost nipping at your nose? C’mon. Top Christmas carol hate… so bad it’s good: “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”

3. “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Do we need yet another version of this sentimental tale? Ghosts of Christmas? Spare me the sermon on Scrooge and Jack Sprat or whatever he’s called. It reduces the whole mystery of the incarnation to being nice to people. Bah humbug.

4. Inflatable Yard Decorations. Who invented the inflatable snowman with a light inside? Somebody thought of that. Really.  And did my neighbor really climb up on his roof to fix that inflatable Santa up there? Maybe he put it on the roof so none of us would be able to sneak out at night and knife the darn thing.

5. Season’s Greetings. Happy Holidays. Nobody is really offended by “Merry Christmas” its just that some paranoid insurance person behind a desk decided that maybe somewhere out there there just might be someone who could possibly be offended and so nobody is allowed to make Christmas have anything to do with the birth of Jesus Christ. I’ve decided if I’m not allowed to say “Merry Christmas” that I am going to say, “May you be blessed by the Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Son of God and Son Mary” Maybe I’ll even sing it. In Gregorian chant.

6. Gay Nativity Scenes. This is rich. We can’t say “Merry Christmas” because someone might be offended, but Christians are not supposed to be offended by a Nativity scene with two Josephs dressed in pink?

7. “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” The tune is dreary and the words have nothing to do who the Magi really were. Commercial break: Read my book Mystery of the Magi-the Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men to get the facts.

8. Santa Claus. St Nicholas who slapped a heretic I can appreciate, but the chubby, Coca-Cola-swigging, red-suited jolly, old Saint Nick? Flying reindeer pulling a sleigh? Mrs. Santa? The North Pole? Naughty elves? No.

9. Toxic Charity. All those collections for toys for poor children and fake Santas ringing bells with buckets. Why is it that people suddenly have an urge to help poor people for one week in the year? Who is that really about? Who is it really for? Who does it make feel good? We’re supposed to help others all year ‘round—not just at Christmas.

10. Preachy Christmas cliches. “Wise Men Still Seek Him, “Keep Christ in Christmas, “He’s the Reason for the Season”? We should remember that Ogden Nash line: “Here is a good rule of thumb. Too clever is dumb.”

11.  Wrapping presents. All that paper and scissors and running out of scotch tape? Those decorative gift bags are a great invention. Easy to use and save them for next year.  Somebody should win a prize for those.

12.  Egg nog.

That rant has made me feel good. In fact, I think I’m experiencing a twinge of genuine Christmas cheer. So Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

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9 replies to this post
  1. Bah humbug…lol. I agree with numbers 1 (urrgh), 4 (home decorations are excessive, especially here in NYC outer boroughs), 5 (hate the secularization altogether – keep Christ in Christmas!), 6 (what??? I haven’t seen that yet), 7 (horrible tune), 9 (agree), 11 (urrgh), 12 (too fattening, plus I’m dairy sensitive).

    I disagree with numbers 2 (even the ones that are not religious elevate the spirits; I agree they can over do it, but they do add to the season), 3 (it’s a great story; do we need another? let people decide), 8 (the kids love him; if you’re an adult, you can pass it by), 10 (I guess you’ve clenched you’re teeth at me for my parenthetical cliché in #5 above. Sure if you’re a PhD writer you’ll find the cliché off putting but just as pictures and images communicated to the masses during the middle ages, these phrases communicate to the masses today.)

    Merry Christmas! (Hey, isn’t that a cliché too?)

  2. Agree with much of the above, but not #3. Christmas just isn’t Christmas without good ol’ Scrooge, or his more modern counterpart, the Grinch. People just love a good redemption tale, even if they’ve heard it plenty of times before.

  3. I have to agree with almost everything you stated in your article. The only movie version of a Christmas Carol that I care for is the 1938 version with Reginald Owen. I do not think I have ever watched any other version all the way through. The 1938 version seems to truly capture the redemption and salvation that Dickens’ intended. All the others seem to miss those two points. The commercialization of Christmas has made it all about mammon, and not about the birth of Jesus.

  4. Apparently I am living in a cocoon – I had no idea gay nativity scenes existed. But now that I know, I think I’ll stay in the cocoon. Here’s to more Ogden Nash and less Frosty the Snowman this Christmas. Have a blessed celebration of Our Lord’s birth, Father Longenecker.

  5. I don’t know if it is really reasonable to expect the author of “We Three Kings of Orient Are” to have miraculously foreseen your theories! It actually does a pretty good job of setting forth the traditional beliefs about the Magi and the significance of their gifts, which I would think any traditional Catholic should respect, even if it is actually dubious history.

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