Saturday, December 17, 2005

Merry Christmas........Everyone

I played at my first Christmas party of the year yesterday. It's just not Christmas without a Christmas party gig. This one's always a little different. A friend of mine, whom I've played with many a time, has a guitar playing brother who works for a local company. There's a couple of drummers from the same company so once a year a band is I never know what song is gonna be called out. I can't remember the last time I played Ozzy's "Paranoid"......oh ....that's right.....NEVER. Till yesterday. It's a kick playing with guys who don't play out all the time. Lots of enthusiasm. And because it's their company, lots of enthusiasm back. This is our fourth?....fifth?....year with this group so the cast of characters has become familiar. We know who's gonna grab the mike and start singing as things get.....cheerful, who'll be wearing the Santa hat, who will be on the floor....who will be on the table. Fun group.
This time of year cuts both ways for me. I have wonderful childhood memories of the Christmas season. I also lost both my parents on New Years Eve. So it's one of those smile...and the same time kind of things. The commercialism that has become Christmas is repulsive on so many levels. And all the radio talk about using the term Christmas, not using the term, to set up or not to set up displays ........c'mon. The celebration of the solstice (to my mind, the beginning of summer....if you really stretch it) goes back to some pagan ritual, anyway. Look, I don't know what Jesus "was." But he seemed like a guy with an innocent message. Love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, do unto others, etc. Not bad. And not so easy. Eight years at St. Mary's Grammar School knocked most of the Catholic out of me. (I could never buy into the hell thing) But is is called CHRISTmas, so why not give him his due?
People have too much time on their hands. Who has time to make and circulate petitions, march with signs, call talk radio shows and be on hold for an hour? I'm just trying to pay my rent, get through life and finish (start) my Christmas shopping. I did go to a couple of demonstrations in college but to be honest, it was to meet girls. And in college, you're supposed to have time on your hands.
If you haven't seen A Christmas Story, (and why not?), it'll be running for twenty four hours starting Christmas Eve. WATCH IT !!!!!! It's got it all....Red Ryder BB guns, tongues stuck to flagpoles, Christmas dinners gone bad.....a story from a more innocent time. Of course, there's always A Very Brady Christmas. Am I the only one who had the hots for Florence Henderson? She was no June still. There's A Christmas Carol (Alistair Sim version), The Grinch, The Chipmunks, A Wonderful Life, The Breaking Bonaduce Christmas Special. That last one doesn't actually exist....but it should.
Take a few minutes, if you think of it, to stroll around ouside that day. Before company comes, or before you take off to Grandma's. There's a feeling in the air. You can smell it....sense it....wrap it around you like your favorite old coat. It's...... peace. Enjoy it.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Cold as a........

Man, the first snowfall of the season and I'm already pining for summer. It's just that the older I get......the less I like the cold. Again my grandmother was right. When I was a kid I could stay out all day in the cold. Now I'm actually warming up my car.....and not for the car. One time I fell through the ice in Greenbrook Park. My pal Billy slid down the slope yelling at me to grab his leg. Well, it was only about two and a half feet of water but I appreciated the sentiment. After a two mile walk home I was about as cold as I'd ever been in my life. Remember the Twilight Zone....or was it Outer Limits....where the astronaut came back to earth and could never get warm? The coffee was never hot enough, the shower was get it. That's the way I was. My grandmother....remember her?.....made me some hot chocolate that I sucked down in a flash and I couldn't get the bath hot enough. Submitted for your approval.
I got over it. But I've discovered something in the last few years. If you're dressed for it, the cold ain't half bad. I was alway one to just grab a jacket and roll. I guess it was a childhood of dealing with galoshes and hoods and trying to fit everything into those St. Mary's closets and they'd never dry and..... on and on. I do a lot of walking these days. Ya know what the secret is to staying warm? Layers. Lots of 'em. And walking fast. I won't set any records for time spent in the cold but an hour, hour and a half I can do. A blue sky and sun don't hurt. And feels good!!
I spend a fair amount of time in NYC and I've never understood the homeless situation there. Sad, sure....but how about getting on a bus or thumbing a ride (check out an earlier blog) to Miami. New York is cold, man!!!! There is nothing colder than downtown where the buildings create these wind tunnels that darn near blow you off your feet. Try a ferry ride. That'll snap you to.
Two weeks till Christmas. That means the winter solstice, doesn't it....the shortest day of the year? Which means that the next day, the days start getting longer. And theoretically, warmer. Then, one day you get that first whiff of....dead ......spring!!!! You know that smell. An immediate flashback happens. Apple trees, baseball, beaches, sunburn, mosquito bites, poison Ivy. But, I digress. I find myself in a bit of a quandry. I want to rush the winter along, but with it goes..... my life. As my grandmother...remember her?........ said, the older you get the quicker the years go by. Ok...I get it. So rather than curse the cold, I'll put on some longjohns. C'moooonnnnnn......solstice.