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25 November 2010

All I Want For Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa... Is (Are?)

Peace, Love, Good Health and Good Cheer!

However, I hope that everyone else wants a printed bound book, or perhaps an audio for the drive to Grandma's.  The poem -- "Over the River and Through the Woods," which I had learned as a schoolchild in song form, is actually about Thanksgiving (more on that wonderful holiday in a different post).

Hanukkah this year begins early, right at the same time as Advent, and right before Downtown Dixon's 22nd Annual Christmas Walk, always on the first Friday of December.  In recent years there has been a split of opinion on whether Friday night or Saturday morning is the better time for celebrating Christmas, with Santa and chestnuts roasting on the open Weber grill.  It was traditionally a time for shopkeepers in Downtown Dixon to showcase wares for sale: gift-giving, decorating and partying ideas for the holidays.  Besides being a wonderful evening out (especially when the weather was lovely), it became a time for tweenies to let loose.  Their behaviour became a little difficult to deal with, especially with the proliferation of the aerosol string that seems so fun and so funny to that age group -- too old for sitting on Santa's lap or even following the parents around while they oooh and ahhh at decorations and previously mentioned wares, yet too young to wander too far away on their own.  So, the event in the last couple or so years has been a great compromise -- an 18- or 30-hour affair.  Books on First really gears up for the Friday night event, in which we sell a tremendous amount of hot chocolate.









Of what we don't sell a tremendous number are holiday titles, traditional like Over the River and Through the Woods or newer ones, like Lemony Snicket's The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming which bridges the Jewish/Christian/secular divide.  We do have an incredible selection, including Doctor Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas (which actually started life as a television special before becoming a book), Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol as a pop-up "paper engineered" by Bruce Fischer and In the Dark Streets Shineth, A 1941 Christmas Eve Story as told by David McCullough.

And to mention a favored audio: NPR's Holiday Favorites, a CD featuring David Sedaris's "Santaland Diaries" and other humorous and heartwarming pieces for the holidays (including Hanukkah and Kwanzaa).  This audio, however, does not have the formerly perennial holiday airing recorded by John Henry Faulks.  I would have liked to see a revival of the now politically incorrect rendering of “the wonderfulest Christmas in the United States of America.”  This is the opposite of "Over the River and Through the Woods," in that I have talked with someone who thought the story was told at Thanksgiving time, because she remembered the black and white families sharing dinner together.  I recalled (correctly this time) that this was a Christmas story, because I remembered the boy getting an orange from Santa and "stripey" candy.  I have not heard this aired in years, while she recalled hearing it just last year.  While not "PC," the story not only represents a tradition, but reflects America at a different time in our history, when we honestly talked about racial discrimination (government Christmas gifting maybe not available for colored folks) and poverty (maybe this was a family who doesn't have Christmas) and the glories of FDR's New Deal for which we Americans could be proud.  In this age of Tea Party ranting about "runaway government," but no one willing to share the hurt, all of this frankness certainly is no longer Politically Correct.

1 comment:

SteveCousins said...

Thanks for posting this! I remember listening to "Christmas Story" on my way to visiting my sister on Christmas day many years ago. I have thought of it every year since but haven't heard it on the Radio and wondered why. I just searched for it and the only mention of it on Google (I searched for "Stripey candy" and "Christmas Story") was your post. Now with the name of the story teller I have found it on npr.org. Thanks very much and Merry Christmas.

Steve