West Bath
Siem Riep
Sri Lanka
Czech Republic
Bora Bora
Porto Alegre
Sao Paulo
San Nicolas
Hong Kong

Christmas Meditations, Part One–Christmas Music

unnamedSleigh bells ring, are you listening?  Yes, I am listening, I am listening carefully, but I don’t hear any sleigh bells.  I hear fire engine sirens and police car sirens, although I don’t know which is which.  I hear big airplanes taking off out of LaGuardia after having made all their passengers wait in the boarding area for an extra hour and then wait on the plane on the tarmac for another hour just to put them in the Christmas spirit.  I hear people sloshing in the gutters because the streets are so crowded, and I hear advertisements for a Charlie Brown Christmas and the Grinch who stole Christmas but unfortunately gave it back.  I hear over and over a description of the clever trick of making your wife faint, crash, right on the floor without even trying to catch her, because you bought two sports cars with the family MasterCard.  I hear the vacuum every evening at the office, set on loud, I think they only vacuum when I am trying to work late.  And I hear a certain amount of drunken conversation at the Xmas office party. No that’s not right, I can’t hear anything at the office Christmas party because the music is too damn loud.  I don’t seem to hear any sleigh bells.


I’m getting nuttin’ for Xmas, cause I ain’t been nuttin’ but bad.  It is true, I haven’t been anything but bad, although I do insist on correct syntax.  I have a large carbon footprint, and I haven’t offset it.  I have not buckled my seat belt low and tight across my lap.  I have not used the hands free function to talk on my cell phone when driving.  In fact, I don’t even know which one of my teeth is the blue one. I haven’t registered and voted in every election. I have considered parking in handicapped parking places, well just for a minute while I run into Starbucks and get a coffee in some incomprehensible size.  I have not crossed only at the crosswalks. I have sometimes put real cream in my coffee, and I don’t always drink skim milk.  I do not exercise for thirty minutes a day at least five times a week, making sure to get my heart rate up to 120 for at least ten minutes of the thirty.  I don’t eat seven helpings of vegetables every day, but really, how could you?  You wouldn’t be able to eat anything else, now would you?  I mean seven helpings is really a lot of helpings, especially since I don’t eat breakfast, the Most Important Meal of the Day.  I do eat beef, I eat beef that has been grilled and has black grill marks on it that no doubt cause cancer.  I do not balance my check book every month.  I do not tithe.  I do not give a dollar to the homeless crazy persons with the badly written signs who accost me at stop lights, I just pretend I don’t see them.  I have had more than one drink before dinner.  I might have had more than one drink after dinner, I don’t remember.  There have been many times when I haven’t had anything good to say about someone, but that hasn’t kept me from saying anything at all, far from it.  I have been naughty and I have not always been nice. In sum, I have been bad, although I would argue that “nothing but bad” overstates the case somewhat, although I suppose I should be more loving and I should be more patient with small children even when they are screaming for no reason, and I should listen first and talk second.  Would I hear sleigh bells then, I don’t think so.


Do you see what I see?  A star, a star… So you see a star, well big deal, there’s a million of the damn things, and this year as a special gift for the one you love you can have a star named after them by the International Star Registry and then give this—what, name?—to this dear one, or maybe you get to give them the rights to the star, although making sure you have clear title might be hard, but so anyway if they’re ever in the vicinity of the Betelgeuse galaxy they can drop by and build a second home on the flaming ball of hot gas that now has their name.  What I really want to know is once you have your name on the star, can you get it engraved?  Then at least people with telescopes can look at it and say, “Look at that star, it’s ‘Becky’ or ‘Cathie’ and that would be ok and worth the 50 bucks.


I saw Mommie kissing Santa Claus.  Well, actually it really wasn’t Santa Claus, it was that dork Bill Dinsbury from accounting although he was wearing one of those cheapo Santa Claus hats that they make in China, and so he’s younger than me and works out all the time, probably because he doesn’t do his job right, and why doesn’t he have a girl friend anyway?  I got even though because I laid a big one on Miss Watkins the secretary of the CFO and boy, was she surprised but she kind of liked it, at least she didn’t slug me.  However, she also didn’t drag me off into the broom closet and rip my clothes off, which is no doubt because we don’t have broom closets any more, we just have really loud vacuums run by the cleaning service.  I think they bring the vacuums with them when they come each evening, I don’t think we even have vacuum closets.


All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.  No, that’s not all, I want all my teeth, and I want them to be pearly white without having to resort to expensive pastes or fabrics or tapes or strange plastic devices that I have to wear all night and will probably result in choking me to death.  And I don’t want to go to the dentist for Christmas to get my teeth.  For Christmas I want six pack abs, or maybe even eight pack abs, I want clear skin without botox whatever that is, I want no wrinkles around the corners of my eyes even if they are the so-called laugh lines and I certainly want no bags under my eyes, and I want my hair line to stop receding and start progressing, and while we’re at it I want my hair back to its original color without the assistance of harsh chemicals and expensive visits to the hair dresser.  I want to be twenty pounds thinner without having to stop eating and drinking and start exercising.  And while we’re at it I want world peace, an end to world hunger, and global warming to stop in the places that are already warm enough.


I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.  No I’m not, I am dreaming of a white and yellow and brown and red and black or African American Christmas because you can’t have a white Christmas and we are careful about this sort of thing.  In fact, I am also dreaming of a Christmas that does not practice gender discrimination or age discrimination or discrimination based on sexual preference however bizarre, although I do draw the line at small mammals.  Thus I am dreaming of a Christmas that can be accurately characterized as a gay and lesbian and bi and straight Christmas, a Christmas endorsed by Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow coalition, except that I fear the coalition has split on the issue of kwanza.  Oh, goodness how could I forget, I am also dreaming of a Muslim Christmas although I will be careful not to name any teddy bears or, actually, any other item, object or representation, religious or secular or none of the above, after the name of Mohammed, although we have some guys that work for us named Mohammed so I don’t entirely get what’s going on here. Couldn’t I just say that I had named the teddy bear after Mohammed who works in IT on the eighth floor? But I am for sure not drawing any pictures of someone in a Santa suit and calling him Mohammed.  I don’t think it would be good to get the whole building blown up.


…and folks wrapped up like Eskimos.  No, I don’t think Eskimos have anything much but seal skin to wrap them selves up in, or if they’re real lucky polar bear skin, but the folks I see are wrapped up like Trapper Jack of North Dakota in down jackets or like Marlboro Men qua ranchers in shearling coats or like investment bankers in cashmere overcoats and if they were really wrapped up like Eskimos they’d damn sure be wearing more hats, and probably have a fair amount of whale blubber or seal blubber or maybe walrus blubber on or about their persons.  Besides aren’t they supposed to be called Native Americans or Native Canadians or native peoples?  And are we all sorry about Eskimo pies?  Are they called Native American Pies now?


All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.  So, now we have talking reindeer, although perhaps they are just animatronic.  And what names did they call him—“Hey, Glow Nose?” “ Lightning bug face?” “Redsnot Boy?”  “Herman?”  “Cynthia?”  It’s not like they had such great names themselves, what the hell kind of a name is ‘Donder’ anyway?  And why wasn’t Santa out there refereeing in the stable while all this name calling was going on?  Didn’t he know he was risking the creation of a Hostile Work Environment?  He’s already gotten problems with the SPCA for making the deer fly all night, way beyond their allowed eight hours without a two hour rest break.  Seems to me that he’s the one they ought to be calling names, like slave driver and you fat tub of lard, why don’t you lose some weight so it won’t be so hard to pull your butt around every Christmas.


On the third day of Christmas.  Is it no longer possible to have a true love who understands simple mathmatics?  Or who understands the difficulties that animal husbandry imposes?  Why can I not have a true love who realizes and appreciates the challenges which butchering French hens creates, it’s not like you can look in the paper and find an ad for somebody who will let you bring him French hens and then remove their little heads and insides and pluck them and put the relevant organs in that little paper sack and stuff it back inside the body and give it to you all covered in Saran wrap.  And then do it over and over as you show up each day with three of the damn things.  And why do they have to be French anyway, why can’t they be American hens?  Can you eat turtle doves?  Or calling birds?  Can I get some calling cards instead of calling birds?  If you just open up the cages will all this avian menagerie fly away or will they just hang around like Canada geese do now and make a big mess on your driveway?  Maybe I can get the drummers drumming to do something useful like cleaning up all the bird poop.  And next year I am for sure sending my true love a list of acceptable presents, all of which she can buy on the internet and I will helpfully include the URL’s and the SKU’s which will prove how computer literate I am and what a good boy friend she has.  So it won’t be that romantic, but do you know how much maids a milking eat?  And how much milk they generate, none of which, by the way, the lords a leaping are willing to drink unless it’s pasteurized and that’s not so easy unless you happen to live next to a dairy instead of in a condo on west 72nd.


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Of course it is, it’s already September.



Robert Hemphill is an author and former senior executive with a global power company.  His most recent book is Dust Tea, Dingoes and Dragons, a humorous look at international business.  Learn more at or on Facebook at Facebook//RF-Hemphill Author.


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