Christmas: You read it here first


As usual, whole forests are being leveled in order for columnists and editorial writers to whine that, here it's not even Thanksgiving and the stores already have their Christmas decorations up and are playing holiday music, including the hideous "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer."

I don't have a problem with that. Oh, sure, I have a big problem with that stupid song, who doesn't?

Look, if it were up to me, I'd have the reindeer come back and finish the job, trample the grandpa and the annoying geek who's doing the singing.

But the concept of rushing the holidays, no, I'm all for that. We beat everything else to death in this country, why not holidays?

If we can make a six-month circus out of whether to go with the trim Elvis or the fat Elvis on a postage stamp, there's no reason we can't make a big production out of Christmas.

Me, I see a time when the holiday season will officially begin around, oh, Labor Day.

This means that by the first week in September, you'll turn on the six o'clock news and see footage of wary toddlers climbing on Santa's knee in suburban shopping malls, as well as Santa visiting orphanages, veteran's hospitals and oncology units.

By the first day of school, newspaper "lifestyle" sections will begin pumping out breathless pieces on "Hot New Toys For The Kiddies!" and "24 Great Tips for Holiday Entertaining!" along with a little box warning: "Only 109 shopping days left to Christmas!"

As I said, this is all fine and dandy by me. Autumn is not a very interesting time of the year, anyway.

Let's face it, there's not a whole lot to do except rake leaves and drink warm apple cider (if that's your thing) and watch the Tampa Bay Bucs play the Indianapolis Colts on TV. You talk about a barn-burner.

Halloween, that's about all fall has going for it. I'll tell you this: Fall foliage is vastly overrated. It cracks me up that people get in their cars and willingly nose them onto the New Jersey Turnpike (motto: "Break down here -- you're a dead man"), then drive hundreds of miles to Vermont just to see the leaves turn colors.

You know what the people of Vermont think of all this? They think it's silly. They can't wait for all the grinning tourists to pack up their Nikon cameras and go home so they (Vermonters) can go tap some maple trees, or whatever it is they do up there to unwind.

But if you dragged Christmas out for four months, I'll bet even the sourpusses in Vermont would cheer up.

Although . . . maybe not. Even with the stores all decorated, I have seen very little evidence of the Christmas spirit around these parts. I was in a bar the other day and not one person seemed excited about the holidays being here.

Finally I climbed on a chair and said: "C'mon, how's about a chorus of 'Frosty the Snowman' to liven things up?"

And people were looking at me like I just took a Bic lighter to the flag.

I thought maybe some of them had just lost their jobs or seen their dogs run over by a car. But, no, it wasn't that at all. They just didn't want to sing Christmas carols. Claimed it was too early for that kind of nonsense.

Even the bartender, who happens to be a friend of mine, seemed unmoved by the season.

"You know, Frank, it's Christmas," I said. "It wouldn't kill you to buy a round."

"It's not Christmas yet," he said evenly.

"Macy's says it's Christmas, Frank."

Very patiently, Frank said: "Well, Macy's is wrong. Christmas begins at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, when I close this dump and walk over to Rite Aid and pick up Evelyn's gift, a bottle of cheap perfume. Then I go home and sit down to the burnt dinner she's left me while she plays gin with her aunt in the living room."

Boy, there's a guy you want to invite over to trim the tree and do a little caroling.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who have the same mindset as Frank.

It would probably make a great subject for the talk shows. "Next on 'Donahue': People who say they haven't caught the Christmas spirit, and here it is, the third week in November! What's wrong with them?!"

I can see Phil --ing around the studio audience like a greyhound on crystal Methedrine, thrusting the microphone in somebody's face and shouting: "The holidays are here and you're sitting there like a bump on a log!"

I'll bet Donahue's people are already placing ads in major metropolitan newspapers that say: "Can't muster the Christmas spirit? We want to hear from you! Willing to pay big bucks for your story!"

I should have ol' Frank give them a call.

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