Category Archives: Christmas

We’re All Misfits!

There are a number of questions that remain among life’s most imponderable. What is the true nature of good and evil? Why does God allow suffering? And the most important question of all — at least as it relates to western culture — in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, what in the heck was wrong with the doll that it earned a place of shame on The Island of Misfit Toys?

For the benefit of those who’ve on another planet for the last forty years, one of the key conceits of the Rankin-Bass Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas TV special is that “defective” toys that no child loves all end up on the Island of Misfit Toys, presided over by the kindly King Nightracer. Among the island’s disgraced residents are a squirt gun that shoots jelly, a cowboy that rides an ostrich, a spotted elephant, a train with square wheels . . . and a doll that appears to have absolutely nothing at all wrong with it.

My brother and I always pondered exactly what the doll’s problem might be. She didn’t appear to have any undergarments on, but we let that particular quirk slide. Perhaps, we thought, it suffered from some invisible ailment, like Tourette Syndrome, that caused her to unleash a stream of profanities instead of a plain “mama.” But then, we heard her speak normally to the rest of the toys — so, so much for that one. Finally, we decided we knew what her problem was.

To this day, we still refer to her as “Diarrhea Dolly.”

A Misfit Toy indeed.

Christmas, Here’s Your Cue…

Sit down cross-legged on the floor of the living room and pull a TV tray over in front of you. In the days before video tapes, DVDs, and cable television made it possible to watch Christmas specials year round or multiple times, you had exactly one shot a year at catching Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Year Without A Santa Claus, or A Charlie Brown Christmas. If you missed it, you were outta luck until the next December. If you were like me, then, you were on your butt in front of the television, a Swanson’s pot pie steaming in front of you, with five minutes to spare.

With that in mind, let’s kick off the Christmas season with an appropriate bit of fanfare. (And my fellow Gen Xers, prepare for flashbacks in 3…2…):

The Christmas Season is officially here!

Grindstone and Coming Attractions

I’m back, after a good week away in which I had a terrific conversation with a source (during which I was also given several more contacts), a good day at the Library of Congress (I’ll sing the praises of their online newspaper archives later), and a terrific Thanksgiving weekend. And all this in spite of the fact that both Maryland and New Mexico were smoked in their respective college basketball tournaments over the weekend.

Our two Christmas trees also went up over the weekend, the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, wreaths were hung on every exterior window, and we filled our flower boxes with real pine greens and lanterns, which we light each evening. Absolutely beautiful. Now we just need the snow to make it a Currier & Ives postcard.

Meanwhile, returning to the day job after a week away means a bit more craziness — especially as we’re in the homestretch of wrapping up a long year in which my particular Councilmember served as Council President, and we’re working to ensure a smooth transition. So bear with me if I’m a bit erratic. Or at least moreso than usual.

But Christmas is one of my favorite things to talk about, so when things settle down, I owe you some posts. It was actually my love of Christmas that spurred my interest in Washington Irving to begin with — and I’ll tell you that story, too. I’ll also grumble a bit about the new John Lennon biography.

Happy December!