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What Christmas used to be

Today (the day I write this) is our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. Can you believe that? You thought I’d forget, didn’t you? And I probably would have if it wasn’t written all over the calendar, the bathroom walls and on the refrigerator door.

Well if I would have, it wouldn’t have been the first time that we both had forgotten it. I spent all of the last few anniversaries in Las Vegas doing the Cowboy Christmas Gift show during the National Finals Rodeo. This takes two weeks in which our anniversary is right in the middle of all that chaos. Even though we would talk to each other on the phone each night, the conversation consisted mostly on how much sales were made and what old friends had stopped by the booth to inquire about our health.  

One thing I found out for sure, if your anniversary falls in December, buying one gift to cover both it and Christmas just doesn’t work. This has brought heated arguments in the past in which I was corrected and that cost even more gifts to smooth over my having to be corrected. I bought her the DVD of The Christmas Story. And she bought me the DVD of How the Grinch Stole Christmas... the original Warner Brothers version, not the Jim Carey version! Not that Jim Carey isn’t a good actor, he just can’t do the Grinch justice.

The illustrated version is much superior. These are the two movies we watch several times during the holidays. The Christmas Story brings back our childhood memories of what Christmas was like when we both grew up in the Midwest. It’s so funny it brings tears to our eyes. Some of those tears may have come from just reminiscing.

Now, each time we watch How the Grinch stole Christmas, I always root for the Grinch to keep all their gifts. But each year he gets sucker-punched by that snotty-nosed little girl, Cindy Lou Who. And he ends up giving all the gifts back. But wait, there’s more. Look closely, All the Whos in Whoville are just as happy without their gifts! All the Whos in Whoville were in a big circle holding hands and singing and guess what? Christmas was coming with or without their gifts. Which confused the hell out of the Grinch. But like most male Grinches, the little blue-eyed blond girl got to messing with his mind and causing his heart to go bong, and like most men he fell off the mountain, taking the sleigh full of gifts with him and everyone in Whoville thought he was bringing the gifts back, when in fact, the Grinch was just clumsy.

Every man, woman and child who sees this movie misses the point and its meaning. The Grinch was a thief; he stole everything in town that resembled Christmas, everything! Yet, when he fell off the mountain and dumped everything in the middle of town, everyone hailed him as a hero instead of what he really was—a thief. And, because he had eyes for little Cindy Lou Who, he could have been charged as a pervert, not to mention what he did to that poor dog! I’m telling you folks, this guy should have gotten twenty years to life. But no, not in America, these people were so glad to get all their gifts and toys back, they invited him to dinner! And set him at the head of the table!

Six, six years old, that’s the cut off date for Christmas gifts. No one over the age of six should receive gifts. That’s how Christmas was designed. At that early age a child was told to hang one of their stockings by the chimney with care, in hopes Saint Nicholas would soon be there. He didn’t always make it! But, if he did, when you awoke the next morning your stocking would be full of gifts for little girls and boys. Those gifts included a large handful of mixed nuts, un-shelled, a handful of hard candy which, by the way, if it was hung to close to the chimney would melt in your sock. That’s how the sugar titty and the Binky became popular. Little kids would go around for days sucking on their sock, trying to get the sweet taste of candy out. Besides, they couldn’t get that sticky sock on anyway. The stocking was then topped off with an orange and an apple. That was your Christmas.

Then comes The Christmas Story. Children at that age become quite curious. Who is this Saint Nick? How did he get down the chimney? How did he get on the house? Where did he come from? But most of all, Why? And while you were setting around the hearth mashing your fingers with a hammer while trying to crack those nuts that’s when your mother or father would read, or tell you the Christmas story, the one about the birth of Christ and the magic of Saint Nick. Of course, where they went wrong was, they also came up with the tooth fairy, and the Easter bunny. When the kid figured out you were lying about all of those things, trying to convince them how that fat boy got down the chimney didn’t stand a chance.

So this was Christmas, seventy years ago for me. Today, the Christmas story has no magic, no wonder, and no beliefs. It has just evolved down to Greed. From now on Santa will be Chinese and he will be delivering everyone’s gifts in a large motor home sponsored by Wal-Mart!


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Boots Reynolds Boots Reynolds The "internationally-renowned cowboy artist" Boots Reynolds has moved his comedic interpretation of life into the writing field with his regular column in the River Journal - From the Mouth of the River.

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