Saturday, December 26, 2015


“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.  You really are a heel!  You’re as cuddly as a cactus.  You’re as charming as an eel, Mr. Grinch.  You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel!” 

My kids and I play this game while driving around Portland doing our last minute Christmas shopping.  There's a lot of gifts this year, returning to America after seven years living abroad.
 “You’re a monster, Mr. Grinch.  Your heart’s an empty hole!  Your brain is full of spiders.  You’ve got garlic in your soul, Mr. Grinch.  I wouldn’t touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole!”

We listen to the Holiday station, K103.3 and sing-a-long.  Bing Crosby and Burl Ives, Frank Sinatra and Karen Carpenter.  They play on repeat like some satellite shot into space beaming a Christmas message to aliens in the far corners of the galaxy.
 “You’re a vile one, Mr. Grinch.  You have termites in your smile!  You have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile, Mr. Grinch.  Given the choice between the two of you I’d take the seasick crocodile!”

But every day there's always one!  One Song!  That seems to repeat itself more than usual.  One Christmas song that out-duels the others for supremacy.  Maybe an anomaly, maybe by design, maybe just pure random chance, but while driving in the car for three or four hours, we hear it a half dozen times.
 “You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch.  You’re a nasty wasty skunk!  Your heart is full of unwashed socks.  Your soul is full of gunk, Mr. Grinch.  The three words that best describe you are as follows and I quote:  ‘Stink!  Stank!  Stunk!’”

Jose Feliciano.  Brenda Lee.  Nat King Cole.  Bobby Helms.  Gene Autry.  Dean Martin.  Andy Williams.  Eartha Kitt.  Jackson Five.  The Drifters.  Wave after wave of nostalgia.  These sweet old tunes of peace and love.  Gifts of goodwill and forgiveness.

“You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch.  You’re the king of sinful sots!  Your heart’s a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots, Mr. Grinch.  Your soul is an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable mangled up in tangled up knots!”

That's a part of Christmas I secretly enjoy, reflecting upon this one day every year spent doing the same things in the same ways with the exact same routines and outcomes... but in slightly varying degrees.  Altered over time, but significant nonetheless.

“You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch.  With a nauseous super ‘naus!’  You’re a crooked dirty jockey and you drive a crooked horse, Mr. Grinch.  You’re a three-decker sauerkraut and a toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!”

I have mixed emotions moving home.  Seven years is a long time, but not long enough.  I walk these fields of my youth.  Feet sink into wet grass.  Jacket pulled up tight around my shoulders and neck.  This isn't about me anymore.  It hasn't been for the longest time.  It's about preserving something.  A signal.  A beam.  Children who know the songs of their father's time.  That's all that matters.

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