Nog should be sold in tablespoon portions. Oh, I do love it; it’s like drinking pancake batter with the syrup already added, but unless you rum it up, it loses its appeal, and you feel like you’re consuming a glass of festive spackle.

Good weekend. No, strike that; great weekend. Since I’d done all the major shopping, the weekend was clean-up, strolling around stores and driving here and there, listening to Christmas-themed old radio shows (Winner of the sonorous insincerity award: Orson Welles! And the “Traditional Holiday” channel on XM radio. “Traditonal” now means 1960s Ray Conniff Singers-style falalaing, with massed choirs from some alternate world where the Soviets were good-time-charlies, I guess. In the evening I tore through DVDs of “24” season 5, also known as the HOLY FARGIN’ CRAP! season, given what happens; at this point, I'm prepared for a robot Nina Myers to return from the future.

Christmas Eve was perfect. If there’s anything better than jitterbugging with your six-year-old daughter to “Jingle Bells” as performed by the Brian Setzer Orchestra, don’t tell me; I’ll save it for next year. (We were in my studio, so I picked up the Strat and bashed along with the music, much to her Absolute Awe.)

Gnat sang in the choir, which must be daunting given the size of the church. (The size may be one of the things that attracts people; the motto could be “We Have to Assume You’re Here.”) Her choir – there are half a dozen – sang at the 4 PM show. They’ve added a 3 PM service, I noted, but the 4 PM remains the favorite. Get this: they put out a ropeline to keep the crowd queued. People who wanted the four PM seating queued up down the long hallway, up the stairs and around the corner. I was by myself, since my wife was fighting a cold and needed to rest, so I got a book from the library I’ve been picking at – a history of the Lutheran Church in the early years of the Nazi rule – and tried, again, to penetrate the obstinate density of the text. I had no idea that records of Protestant German church politics c. 1933 were so . . . complete, but that’s the Germans for you, I suppose. It’s a fascinating tale, waiting to be told again with less information, and it would open a few eyes, I think. Various important members of the church did not exactly put up a stiff fight, to put it kindly. Those who were grudgingly co-opted had nothing to say when the Nazis decided they’d fold the church’s main children’s group into the Hitler Youth, thank you very much. The pictures of church-Nazi rally are creepy in the extreme – celebrations of Luther’s 450th birthday with Nazi banners, church publications with the swastika on the same page as the cross. Not a fair fight in the short run; not a fair fight in the long.

The book had a parenthetical aside about a fellow who sent a telegram protesting the Hitler Youth co-option; the telegram’s author, the book noted, later joined the SS for the purpose of subverting it from the inside. There’s a movie. I googled the fellow’s name when I got home, and I’ll warn you: It’s not exactly holiday reading. Except that it reminds you that Christmas might well be about some other messages besides cigarette distribution.

But enough Nazi talk, he said, on Christmas. After Church I merrychristmased all the folks I knew, ran into the Minister’s Wife (her husband baptized me in Fargo when I was a baby, and baptized Gnat here in Minneapolis; I know I say that a few times a year, but I still think it’s remarkable) then collected Gnat from the gym and headed off to the car hand in hand. We drove through the neighborhood looking at the lights, then stopped at the drug store for last minute items – cold remedies for my wife, a watch battery, and some chocolates. Like we don’t have enough. I’d already purchased the requisite tin of Peppermint Bark, knowing I’d have no more than a square inch or two, but I always remembered my father coming home with a double-decker box of Russell Stover, a selection of crèmes and caramels and horrid coconut-bombs and weird nut-things that looked like a bird had passed indigestible shells. We bought a small box of mint crèmes, then headed home for the inevitable Swedish Meatballs. Dinner in the dining room; a small glass of the White Chocolate Irish Liquer – horrible as it sounds, but you don’t realize that until after you’ve had four sips. Still, the first three sips are dynamite, and it’s one of my traditions. (Odd how these things accumulate, no? I did it last year, ergo, I will do it again.)

My wife hit the spot with a nice watch, an incredible compendium of Russian art, two sweaters that meet my exacting criteria (no V-necks, no patterns, no zippers, medium weight) and some Bay Rum cologne with such a fine classic scent it makes me feel like I could knock out Hemingway with one punch. Yer mother shoulda kept you in dresses, pal. No, I wouldn’t say that. It’s Christmas.

My main gift to my wife was the first two installments of the Collected Photos of Our Daughter, assembled in those books you can order from Apple. They relieved her of the horrible feeling she should be scrapbooking, a thought that plagues many well-meaning women who regard the scrapbooking craze with guilt and despair. Gnat had no idea what she wanted, really, and was utterly delighted with everything she got. When it was done she  thanked us for The Best Christmas Eve Ever, Mommy and Daddy, and you cannot beat that for cockle-warming power. I did not overdo it this year, although Santa’s bounty tomorrow will strain the floorboards, and should lead to much screaming. Right now she’s playing her new computer game; my wife is working on a puzzle, I’m  dashing this off, which I hadn’t planned to do. Heck, that graphic above was a reject for last week, and I’d put it in the Xmas 07 folder for later use. In a few minutes I have to file some columns, since Tuesday deadlines are still deadlines. 

I had intended just to put up a graphic, then I thought that was insufficient. So I added a song. But it was too sappy, so I added something nifty.

Go here! And enjoy the day. May the love flow as thick as nog.

Forget I ever said that.





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