Holidays bring their share of annoyances

Thursday, December 13, 2007 | 10:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:48 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 4, 2009

“I just found out we are not green enough!”

Kathy was a bit miffed over the prospect. I was confused. More confused than normal, that is. As a Jewish, Agnostic, Humanist, Unitarian, Buddhist with a Catholic education, confusion is something I live with daily.

It seems that a group calling itself the “Green Jews” is advocating lighting only one candle on each night of Hanukkah, thus saving the world from undue warming and additional greenhouse emissions. OK, I am a tree hugger of sorts, but this is getting to be a little too much, even for me. My response to Kathy was simple: What?! Yagottabekiddin!

Speaking of too much, it is already Dec. 14, and I have had enough Christmas music for a lifetime. I work in a retail store during the holidays and, quite frankly, they are piping in the holiday stuff 24/7. Just yesterday, I heard seven versions of “Jingle Bells,” four of “I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus” and 11 versions of “White Christmas,” including a disco version with Dean Martin and one as a rap!

Personally, I believe that Walt Kelley’s Pogo, the comic possum living in the Okefenokee Swamp along with Albert the Alligator and others, sang the best version of “Deck the Halls.” I believe it was Kelley’s protest to the retailization of Christmas or maybe it was just a political commentary (which was more likely). “Deck the halls with Boston Charlie; Walla Walla Wash and Kalamazoo; Nora’s sleepin’ on the trolley; Holly Collie Cauliflower and Alakaroo ...”

Then there are the “comedy” carols we are forced to listen to. Really, how funny would it be it if your grandma were run over by Santa and his sled, then pummeled by 36 reindeer hooves? I see a lawsuit in the fat man’s future. And will someone please stick a sock in Alvin’s chubby little cheeks already? I know, I know, he wants a Hula-Hoop.

In 1996, the late Steve Goodman was asked to sing “Winter Wonderland” during a live Easter radio show on WNEW-FM. Steve, who wrote “City of New Orleans” and “Banana Republic,” among other great hits, was one of the great characters in the folk/rock world. That morning he picked at his guitar and sang, “It’s kinda absurd, when you don’t know the words, to sing ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland.’” Now I can’t get that out of my head.

I am also tired of people who believe that wishing someone “Happy Holidays” is somehow anti-American, anti-Christian and a Communist plot. It’s not. It is recognizing that there are beliefs out there other than Christianity and that Christmas is not the only winter-solstice based holiday. This is not being politically correct. It is a fact of life.

Another problem: There are too few Hanukkah songs. OK, there is “The Dreidel Song.” However, I prefer “The Eight Days of Hanukkah,” rewritten from a long forgotten Hanukkah card. “Eight burning candles, seven praying rabbis, six Jewish mothers, five fowls of chicken sooooooup ... Four singing cantors, three spinning dreidels, two matzah balls and a bagel with some cream cheeeeese.” With feeling ... and a Brooklyn accent.

People love the winter holidays. Joy and peace and goodwill and great presents. Many wish the holidays would last all year. Why not? Joy and peace and goodwill are wonderful virtues that should never be lost because the calendar says it is March. Our only obligation: to buy presents or give to charities or to have goodwill to all is being human.

Kathy thinks I am starting to sound like Andy Rooney, so I better stop now. Or maybe not. Can I talk about Kwanzaa or about drinking too much mead while celebrating the solstice Pagan or Nordic style? How about just sitting at Stonehenge, watching the sun come up in the cold of an English winter morning?

Next week: My version of the story of Santy Claus.

Wishing everyone a Happy Chrishanukwanzica and a Happy New Year.


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Clay Eals December 13, 2007 | 1:05 p.m.


Great to see your witty column and its passing mention of Steve Goodman. He often doesn't get his due.

A small fix might be in order: The recording of Goodman singing "Winter Wonderland" in which he said, "It's kind of absurd when you don't know the words ..." is not from one of his four interviews with WNEW 's Vin Scelsa. It is actually a track from his 1983 "Artistic Hair" LP, and the track was an outtake from Goodman's appearance on the PBS-TV show "Austin City Limits," taped Sept. 8, 1977, and aired nationwide in March and April 1978. Pretty amazing to imagine Goodman improvising lyrics to a song he didn't full know while being taped for national TV.

You may be interested to know about my new, 800-page biography, "Steve Goodman: Facing the Music." For more info on it, check my Internet site (below).

You also may be interested to know that the Missourian did a thorough article on Goodman on April 16 , 1978, when he was opening for comedian Steve Martin. The article was written by Jim Bates, who now is the deputy entertainment editor for the L.A. Times.

If you would like more info, feel free to contact me. All best,

Clay Eals
1728 California Ave SW #301
Seattle, WA 98116-1958

Home phone: 206-935-7515
Cell phone: 206 -484-8008

(Report Comment)
David Rosman December 13, 2007 | 3:42 p.m.

Clay is right. I had the right artist, Steve Goodman, but the wrong album. and if you never heard steve's rendition of his own or stolen music, I urge you to find his albums. "Artistic Hair" is a kick.

David Rosman

(Report Comment)
Sherri Green December 27, 2007 | 5:07 p.m.

Yes, it would have been a real trick for the late, great Steve Goodman to have sung "Winter Wonderland" in 1996 since, alas, he died in 1984!

(Report Comment)

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