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Up a (Christmas) Tree 

Crank Call

So here it is, the week after Thanksgiving, way up in the hills of Vermont - well, Charlotte. We've "seen some sunshine" recently, as the meteorologists say, but it's been the kind of fleeting, "almost" sunshine you can easily miss. In Vermont, at the end of November, you often have to rush outside to see the sun. That exceeds the limits of sun worship, as far as I'm concerned,

So, we'd better face it: Winter's on the way. The light is getting dimmer. There's an indescribable feeling in the air - a combination of huge relief that Thanksgiving is over and utter dread that Christmas is coming. Once again, Americans are marching to the tune of "Ready, Set, Shop!" According to Monday's Los Angeles Times, "Holiday shoppers came out early and spent big across the nation this weekend," shelling out "an average of $360.15" per person, "18.9 percent more than last year." Or, as blogger Jason Miller put it on Thomas Paine's Corner (http://civillibertari an.blogspot.com/), commenting on Thanksgiving week's notorious "Black Friday," "The unwavering disciples charged into the fray to avoid the unthinkably tragic fate of dying without having the most toys."

Amen. And "Black Friday" isn't even "Cyber Monday," when American workers were expected to spend something like $32 billion on the web in a single day, once they got back to the office and saw what a huge waste of time it was for them to be there. The Times reports that, as of Monday, "shoppers were encouraged by deals on big-ticket electronics, including DVD players, high-definition televisions and new video game consoles."

All these "consoles," I'm afraid, are why the "Islamo-fascists" hate us so much - consoles and cars and clothes and cellphones and diamonds. Lots of diamonds. I've seen more ads for diamonds on TV lately than I have in the last 20 years. They seem to pop up automatically between commercials for Wendy's and all those soothing cartoon butterflies telling you what a wonderful night's sleep their products can provide. That is, if you don't mind the nausea, headache, dizziness, grogginess, indigestion, diarrhea and "certain rare but fatal side effects" that go along with it. But it can no longer be doubted by any reasonable mind: Ours is an "ideology of freedom" and theirs is an "ideology of hate" - even though everyone the LAT managed to interview at the malls on Saturday wished to hell the "holidays" were already over with. "I just can't take another minute of this!" was the general refrain.

"Oh, Christmas!" as my mother used to say when I was growing up - it was one of her more frequent and dependable outbursts. She's developed a few stronger ones since, "but that's because of George W. Bush," as she's prepared to swear on oath. My mother is the kind of person who actually calls the White House and tells the operators what she thinks. Once she called to say that the president's penis was "big enough already" and that he didn't need to bomb Iraq to make it any bigger. Now she thinks the best way for us to get out of Iraq is to withdraw our troops immediately and then make amends to the Iraqi people by giving them "the Bush dynasty" as our most expensive Christmas gift.

"What could possibly go wrong?" she wonders. "Why, it'd be a cakewalk!" Certainly, if TV promoted the Bushes as heavily as it promotes Christmas - well, come to think of it, it does. Since the recent elections, a pure disaster for the clan, we've had more Bush-family news than you can shake a stick at. First, the Iraq Study Group, under the leadership of James A. Baker, the Bushes' famous "consigliere," is stepping in on 41's behalf to rescue 43's presidency. Next, 41 himself was in the Middle East, whining and pouting and practically bursting into tears because a lot of people in Abu Dhabi think his son's a liar and a creep.

"My son is an honest man!" 41 exclaimed. "He is working hard for peace! This son is not going to back away!" And then, irrelevantly, "How come everybody wants to come to the United States if the United States is so bad?"

Meantime, little Barbara - or was it Jenna? - had her purse snatched in Argentina, right under the noses of her security detail. She lost her driver's license (not a bad thing, from what I hear) and all her credit cards. Finally, sister Doro, "the best-kept secret in America," as her mother says, has "burst out of the shadows" with a book, My Father, My President, which chronicles in weepy and revoltingly sentimental tones "the life and times" of 41, but seems reluctant to name or even mention 43. The Washington Post reports that he's currently sulking in his tent, "fuming," "venting" and "in a funk" over his dwindling power.

By the sound of her interviews, the "twice-married" Doro couldn't write a grocery list by herself, but if we're publishing phony, fraudulent memoirs, we might as well publish them all. I'm sure there are lots of people who'd rather pay $8000 on eBay for a copy of O.J. Simpson's If I Did It than find Doro's little tome under their tree this year.

At least we haven't had to watch a Rich Tarrant commercial for - what is it now? - nearly four weeks.

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Peter Kurth

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