Ghosts of Christmas Past

22 Dec

(This is a repost  an encore presentation of the Christmas blog I posted last year.  Or, if you prefer, I am re-gifting this Christmas blog from last year. If you remember it, try to act surprised. If you don’t remember it, well—Merry Christmas! I hope you like it. It’s the right size, isn’t it?)


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

I suppose, even for procrastinators, that’s appropriate, what with it being a day or two before the actual holiday and all.

Which reminds me–that TV they have in the break room at work continues to be a source of angst and amusement. I wandered in on Rachael Ray’s show this past week and she had some woman on explaining the finer points of selecting a Christmas tree, along with tips on how to tie it down and transport it in your car.

Why is this woman on TV the week before Christmas explaining this stuff? In my experience, if someone hasn’t put up the Christmas tree by this stage of the game, they aren’t planning to put one up at all. Rachael must have needed some filler. Anyway, getting back to what I was saying…

“It’s Beginning to Look at Lot Like Christmas” is actually one of my least favorite Christmas songs of all time. I am also not so fond of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” I am sure that is why that particular song gets stuck in my head and plays over and over from Halloween until after the New Year.  One of those cruel musical jokes I play on myself.

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” includes the somewhat baffling line, “There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago!”

Who the heck tells ghost stories when they get together for Christmas?

I mean, besides Charles Dickens.

As for “the glories of Christmases long, long ago,” I am not trying to be pathetic here, but while I do have some fond memories of the holiday, some of my worst memories also involve Christmas. You throw family together and it can be a joy or a terror, you know?

Not to dwell on the negative–for that would be wrong, seeing how it is Christmas and everything–one of my fondest memories of Christmas was the first Christmas my long time bachelor friend/boyfriend/significant other and I spent together after we moved to San Francisco. For reasons I do not entirely recall, we fashioned a Christmas tree together out of various broken off tree limbs. It was very Charlie Brown, but it was our first Christmas together in our own home:

San Francisco Christmas2

That’s a view of our Potrero Hill living room, looking out on the sun porch circa 1981.

At that time, I was working at an answering service where I befriended a co-worker  named John, who called himself Need. Need was the boyfriend of a guitarist in an all female punk rock band from Boulder, CO. He and his beloved lived with the rest of the members of the band in an apartment on 18th Street near The Castro.  We were invited to a party at their place on Christmas Eve. For a Christmas tree, they had placed a plastic garbage bag over a microphone stand and decorated it with homemade cardboard ornaments. They had also constructed a Nativity tableau that included Godzilla, along with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.

Ah, my first San Francisco Christmas.

(I was reminded of that microphone stand Christmas tree when I first heard of Festivas on a 1997 episode of Seinfeld. The aluminum Festivus pole harkened back to my memories of the punk rock band’s version of O Tannenbaum.)

Within a couple of years, my significant other and I were back in Florida.

The first Christmas after we returned to the Sunshine State was unusually cold. I remember my significant other cooked a duck and a goose for our Christmas dinner.

Cold weather is not all that unusual in our part of Florida. Residents are still talking about December 1989 when we actually had snow. It was nothing compared to say, Minnesota or even Tennessee, but it was enough to bring our humble town to a screeching halt, Here’s some photographic evidence of the famous winter of 1989:

Snow in San Marco2

My mental file of fond memories includes December 2007, when my best friend and I took a quick trip to our nation’s capital. We didn’t stay through Christmas, but the city was dressed up for the holiday.

We were greeted by a gorgeous Christmas tree at Reagan International Airport:


There was a beautiful lighted wreath at Union Station:


One of my favorite places to go in Washington is the National Cathedral. It seemed especially beautiful during the Christmas season.



The archway to the gardens behind the Cathedral was covered in snow:


The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool was encrusted with ice:


Government buildings were decked out for the holiday:


There were even wreaths at the Vietnam War Memorial:


As well as the White House:


I love sending this out on my Christmas card so people who don’t know better think I live in a big fancy house! “Yes, that’s the wreath we hang on the front gate…”

Garrison Keillor, in Leaving Home wrote,  “A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.”

I can recall more than one memorable thunderstorm as well.

However and wherever you celebrate this particular season of the year, I wish you much joy and most of all, wonderful memories.

And now, one of my favorite Christmas memories from popular culture. You may need to be of a particular age to appreciate the bizarre and beautiful juxtiposition of these two particular singers.

I seek this out every year at this time:

One Response to “Ghosts of Christmas Past”

  1. I do not like that Sam I Am January 28, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    I’ve always sort of wondered who thought that duet was a good idea. I suppose I should be happy that someone likes it. Of course there’s no accounting for taste, or so anyone perusing my music collection would naturally be lead to believe.

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