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GROB: Merry Christmas, and don’t let the Scrooges and Grinches bring you down

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

I love Christmas music. It’s OK if you don’t.

I understand if you hate it. I understand if you’re tired of hearing it. Some radio stations go overboard with it, and start playing Christmas songs in October, and I agree that’s pushing it.

So I change the station. If you hate Christmas music, I urge you to do the same. But please, let me enjoy it.

James Grob
James Grob

A handful of radio stations have taken the classic holiday song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” off their Christmas playlists. That’s disappointing to me. The song is a lovely duet written in 1944. The complaint is that the song’s lyrics portray a man attempting to coerce a woman into having sex against her will. I suppose that’s a credible interpretation, but it isn’t my interpretation.

I try not to worry about it. I like the song, but if I never hear it again, my life will be no different, so I try to laugh it off.

At the same time, my preferred genre of music — when it’s not Christmas time — is heavy metal, so all my life, groups of people have been attempting to ban songs I like, for a variety of reasons — some valid, most not. So I take offense when someone else tells me what I should or shouldn’t listen to.

I listen to what I like. If I don’t like it, I don’t listen to it. It’s pretty easy.

That’s how I approach the Christmas season.

There have been similar complaints this year about the beloved traditional television movie, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The claymation classic has been around since 1964, but for some reason this year there are a handful of people pointing out that the film contains bullying and bigotry, and Santa Claus himself is portrayed as being kind of a jerk.

This is not news. I’ve known this since I was a little kid. Rudolph and his weird little dentist-wannabe elf friend are bullied, and Santa is close-minded and crotchety. And then, in the end, Rudolph and the dentist-elf save Christmas. In between, there are a bunch of cute little songs. What’s the big deal? I enjoyed it, my kids enjoyed it, and my grandkids will enjoy it, so let’s leave it alone.

There are Scrooges and Grinches out there everywhere, who seem to have nothing better to do than try to ruin Christmas for the rest of us.

Then there are those who insist that their interpretation of Christmas is the only interpretation. Some will tell you that it’s too much about Christ, that we need to water down the religious aspects that turn people off. Others will say that there’s not enough Christ, that Christmas should only be a day of worship, that all the commercialism and secular traditions should be stopped.

Religious or secular? It’s completely up to each person, I just don’t like when that person insists that his way is the only way, and everyone else’s way is wrong.

As for me, my thought is that there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of both.

Then there are those people who insist on correcting my Christmas vocabulary. They get their Rudolph-decorated panties all in a bunch when I tell them “Happy Holidays.” They tell me that the proper greeting is “Merry Christmas,” and that when I say “Happy Holidays,” I’m declaring a “War on Christmas” and I’m part of some worldwide liberal conspiracy to “take Christ out of Christmas.”

Bless their little hearts. Aren’t they cute?

They think they are fighting political correctness, but the irony is, when they do this, they are being exponentially politically correct — and they aren’t self-aware enough to realize it.

I’ll wish them a Merry Christmas, a happy holiday, a quaint Kwanzaa, or a joyeux noel, or anything I want to wish them anyway. I honestly hope their days are merry and bright.

Because there really isn’t much about Christmas I don’t enjoy.

I love the snow. I don’t love shoveling it or driving in it, but I love looking at it.

I love the lights and decorations. I love that I have an 8-foot tall inflatable penguin in my front yard for about a month every year. His name is Opus.

What does an inflatable penguin have to do with Christmas? Probably nothing, but I love Opus anyway.

I love that my wife arranges a Nativity scene every year, and decorates the house and the tree, and many of the ornaments on our tree are symbols of memories that mean a lot to her.

I love time with my family and my friends, playing games and watching football and singing songs and sometimes arguing with them. Sometimes I treasure the arguments most of all.

I love Dad’s Christmas prime rib and Mom’s Christmas soup or chili. I love all the sweets and treats and goodies.

I love getting presents and I love giving them, and I love the excitement of the kids — and how it’s contagious. Sometimes for a brief moment, a glimpse of how I felt at that age flashes through me.

I love how every Christmas, my mother-in-law reads the book, “A Cup of Christmas Tea,” which is a tender story of a young man’s reluctant visit to an elderly aunt at Christmastime, and the unexpected joy it brings. She reads it aloud to the whole family, and I don’t know how closely the kids and spouses and grandkids and great grandkids are listening, but I am.

And I love how it brings a tear to her eye as she reads, and a tear to mine as I listen.

I love watching the three greatest Christmas movies  — “It’s a Wonderful Life,” any version of “A Christmas Carol” — and the best Christmas movie of all — “Die Hard.”

Yes, “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie. You know why? Because I want it to be.

Did I mention I loved the songs?

I love Luke, Chapter 2. I love that Jesus and Mary and Joseph were poor, and without a place to stay, and the baby was wrapped in swaddling cloth and placed in a manger, among the beasts. I love the message of charity. I love that he was visited by strangers from far away, who offered gifts. A host of angels made a joyful noise so loud that it frightened shepherds, but the shepherds were told there was nothing to be afraid of. They were told to rejoice. To celebrate. I love that.

I love Christmas. It fills me with cheer.

And I love people who hate Christmas, I love people who want to ruin Christmas, and I love people who insist that my Christmas must be the same as their Christmas.

They make me laugh. Which also fills me with cheer.

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