Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve Eve, and I’m watching Love Actually for actually the twelfth time this month. Every time it’s on, I gotta watch it. And it’s on a lot.

Tonight’s a quiet night. As I write this my favorite furry friend is lying beside me on the couch, all cuddled up in a blanket. I bought him a birthday cake today because it will be eight years on Dec 26 that I made the best decision of my life and went to Animal Control and brought this baby home with me. I’ve designated Dec 26 as his birthday. I was told when I got him that he was two years old, so that means my boy has hit the double-digits.

Phil is the first dog I’ve had since our family dog passed away when I was a teenager. I can’t believe I let so much time pass before getting another dog. It’s hard to remember my life before him. It must have been so empty without a dog, and I didn’t even know it. I’ve been grateful for him ever since.

This is my Christmas post and I don’t want to be too melancholy, but I’ve spent the last 24 hours reflecting on some horrible tragedies that have recently happened. I woke up this morning to the news that a tsunami in India had killed over two hundred people. This after going to bed reading about the brutal murders of two Scandinavian tourists women in Morocco.

It’s enough to make one wonder how there could be a God that allows suffering like this to happen in the world. I know that’s a sacrilegious thing to say two days before the celebration of the birth of Jesus, but I can’t honestly say I don’t have my doubts.

For now I’m going to cuddle up with my dog while I acknowledge that though this may be the season of joy and the time to be merry, there are people all over the world struggling right now with grief or loneliness or a loss of a loved one. Maybe that loss was so recent and unexpected that there are wrapped presents under the tree for that loved on who is no longer here. What do they do with those presents and how do they carry on? As they hold that unopened present will they remember when they bought the gift and the anticipation they felt at watching the expression on their loved one’s face as they open the gift they’re sure they’ll love?

These are depressing sentiments. I know. But these are the thoughts that cloud my mind when tragedies happen so close to the  holidays.

I hope all of those people struggling find peace.

Merry Christmas, and give your dog a hug if you have one. They love that.

 

 

IMG_20181223_215344532

 

The 24-Hour Dominance of “A Christmas Story”

Since 2004, the cable channel, TBS, has been playing a 24-hour marathon of the movie, “A Christmas Story,” starting on Christmas Eve night looped all the way through Christmas Day. In 1997, this holiday favorite used to feature its 24-hour dominance on TNT.

In 1997.

The movie is a bonafide holiday hit. A classic. And even though I probably haven’t watched it from beginning to end since I was nine (which by then I’d probably seen the movie 1,985,789,121 times), this 24-hour holiday feature loop plays in the background, on my TV, whenever my TV is on.

When you know a movie as well as most people know “A Christmas Story,” merely catching glimpses here and there will bring you right back into the story as if you’ve been lying on the couch, with the dog snuggled in your lap, watching since scene one.

For me, just hearing the scenes play out from a small screen in a room I may not even be in, stimulates the Christmas spirit in me. I’m taken back to the days I used to write Santa long letters of my most coveted toys and leave treats for him to eat on the night he’d come to drop off all my gifts.

I was a young child the first time I saw “A Christmas Story.” And that may be why anytime I see the movie on TV, or just hear the familiar words from across a room, it triggers a feeling inside that is calming and nostalgic.

The fact that the movie is set in the 1940’s may also contribute to my endorphin-like sensation that, for the moment, everything is gonna be all right, whenever that movie is on. The story takes place during a time that is often looked back as “the good old days.” Or, “a simpler time.”

Well, what could be a more simpler time than when we were kids?

So, right off the bat there are two things that automatically make “A Christmas Story” endearing to me. One, I saw the movie for the first time through non-jaded eyes when I was a child, and two, the story is set during the “olden days.”

Even though history tells me life was hard and not so great for a lot of people during those times, and even though, for many personal reasons, I wouldn’t want to live in those old days if given a choice, a sense of tranquility takes over me almost instantly when I watch an old movie. In some strange way the scenes on screen are very familiar to me, even though I’ve never lived it.

As a kid, I loved the part in “A Christmas Story” where the friends dare each other to do something because what kid didn’t do that?

I once put a cicada in my mouth, on a dare.   I once lay across the middle of a dirty, busy road in a white jacket on a dark night, on a dare. And I once made a funny face behind the back of a teacher, on a dare. (And yes, I got ratted out by my fellow-classmates.)

But I never stuck my tongue to a freezing pole in the dead of winter. I don’t know if it’s because I was never stupid enough to do something like that, or because nobody ever triple-dog dared me to do it.