Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas means giving and getting - again and again and again, again

From the second Charlie Brown Christmas tv special (the one nobody watches):

Charile Brown: Would you like to buy a nice Christmas wreath?
Potential Customer: Oh, I see that you're adding to the commercialization of Christmas, Charlie Brown.
Charlie Brown: Not yet! I'm trying to.

I've always thought that the buying and giving and receiving and all that was merely a backdrop to the family gatherings, which I always found more fun and longer-lasting than the cheap RC race-tracks I used to get. I guess it's nice to think you're doing something for the ones you love, to show that maybe you know a little something about them, that maybe you're on to their tastes and sizes.

But that's hard, and we spend a lot of time in a post-Christmas blue period at the return register. So, yeah, gift cards are a necessary evil. Kind of like voting. But at least we know what stores to buy from.

The new Over the Rhine Christmas CD, Snow Angels, is in the running for top of my year-end lists. It emphasizes best what I like about Christmas better than I can. Although every song on there is, as far as I can tell, a new composition, the songs are heavily borrowed - as in the remake of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" that becomes simply "Little Town", the Guaraldi-themed shuffle "Goodbye Charles" and several themes from earlier OtR records (such as the downward bass slides found in abundance on their masterpieces Ohio and Drunkard's Prayer and here on "All I Ever Get for Christmas Is Blue" and the rollicking uptempo numbers from DP). This mix of familiar and novel leads to a fresh nostalgia, a living memory. And really, isn't that what Christmas is all about? Isn't there something wonderful about the words "incarnation", "hark" and "glad tidings of good news"? Isn't there something wonderful in retelling old stories and making them new a hundred times?

Or is it just me?
Merry Christmas from us.

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