Maybe it’s just my warped sense of humor, but I find it kind of funny that we count mistletoe—which is both a toxic and parasitic plant—among the many symbols of love. This is merely one of the many details about Christmas that fascinate me.
For those eager to absorb more holiday trivia, I suggest the History Channel Web site as well as a wonderful, yet hard to locate, book called “The Book of Christmas.” One of an excellent but out-of-print series called “The Enchanted World,” it covers much of the ancient customs and mythology that have contributed to the lore of the Christmas we now know.
There’s currently a big fuss about “The Golden Compass.” I watched it recently, and enjoyed it, though I felt I had an advantage because I’d read Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials,” upon which the movie is based.
Some people worry that kids will see the movie and then want to read the books, from which their little darlings might pick up “spiritually dangerous” ideas.
If someone tells me that a particular book is going to harm my soul, I immediately make a mental note to read it at my earliest convenience because I don’t appreciate people telling me what I should believe.
I think it’s rather sad that the filmmakers felt they couldn’t be more true to Pullman’s original work for fear of giving offense to certain groups of people, especially considering that offense was apparently taken anyway.
I really miss the whole lack of complication that life seemed to have as a kid. I didn’t have to drive in the cold and snow, I could go out and play in it. School was occasionally cancelled on account of snow, whereas work usually isn’t. I could warm up with my back to the fire when I got in from playing in the snow, but I can’t anymore since I don’t have a fireplace. To warm up quickly these days, I just have to make do with hot showers, an electric blanket, and warm clothes.
Whenever feasible, I prefer to simply avoid winter’s bite, curling up inside to read a good book—preferably either science fiction, fantasy or one about actual science, such as “The Making of the Fittest” by biologist Sean B. Carroll.
Back on the subject of the holidays, are we ever going to stop hearing about this so-called “war on Christmas”? It wears me out just thinking about it.
Sure, we all have things that are important to us—science and reason, in my case—but it’s a holiday. Some people seem to expend so much effort being offended at how others do or don’t celebrate it, that I honestly wonder how they have any time to enjoy it themselves, assuming they do.
Whether you prefer “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”—that bastion of consumerism created in 1939 for Montgomery Ward, as a marketing tool—or the more traditional carols such as “Silent Night” or “The First Noel,” there’s Christmas music made just for you.
I personally like all of it, as it brings back great memories of when I was growing up. Mom would be baking while Christmas music played on the stereo and I would be doing kid things.
At this time of year, I like to eat lots of food I normally don’t get during the rest of the year, spend time with my loved ones, open presents and relax.
Regardless of whether you prefer your holidays served in the traditional religious style or the more modern secular style, please enjoy them and stay safe to enjoy many more in the future.
Kevin Hower works for the Free Press in the areas of production, distribution and technology. He lives in Marion.