25 October 2009

Rudolph Day, October 2009

The purpose of Rudolph Day is to keep the Christmas spirit all year long. One can prepare Christmas gifts or crafts, watch a Christmas movie, play Christmas music, or read a Christmas book.

May a frosty October be yours! In six days it will be Hallowe'en, and then Thanksgiving preparations begin. But Christmas isn't far away—why not

...watch some Christmas videos to whet your appetite? 101 Classic Christmas Videos Online.

...start organizing now so you can have a fun holiday? Christmas Organizing has ideas, and even a blog.

...listen to some online Christmas music. Here's a link to Live365's collection of Christmas music. Warning: to listen to some of these you have to belong to Live365, but other stations are totally free! Pandora Radio also has Christmas music.

...read a Christmas-themed book? A new nonfiction offering I found recently was Tinsel by Hank Stuever. I can ordinarily take or leave humorous Christmas books; some are funny while others are just crass, so I was wary, as the description made it sound as if the author was going to make fun of the people he was involved with. Instead I found this an imperfect, but entertaining and slightly sad story of Stuever's visit with three families in heartland Texas: a young couple who put up a bravura light display, an earnest but garrulous woman who has developed a small business putting up decorations for wealthy people, and a single mom who is trying to keep the magic of Christmas alive during hard times.

I say "sad" because as a "Christmas nut" I found these folks well-meaning but having completely lost sight of the fun and joy of Christmas. The man with the light display, for instance, is so into it that he refuses to leave home during the holiday to visit his parents (a sign of deeper familial problems) because "people would miss his lights." The woman who does the home decorating is sweet-natured Christian, but avoids visiting a dying friend except for the day she puts up her decorations for her, and takes inordinate effort into convincing her kids that Santa Claus still exists, including hiring an insipid elf to come visit the home to present them with the news about a skiing trip to Colorado. Even the woman who's trying to make ends meet spends a lot of time searching for bargains on expensive items so she can give so-called "good" presents to the people she loves. Christmas is about family (whether by blood or by choice), friends, simple gatherings and token gifts, but most of all feeling good, whether a deeper religious meaning or just a time of the year to enjoy oneself, and so much of what these folks strive for is artificial or filled with conspicuous consumption, symbolic of the modern "spirit" of Christmas. If these folks had been complete jerks it might have been humorous, but because they were nice people, the result is a little melancholy instead.

Despite that, I enjoyed the telling of the participants' stories and the background info about the American Christmas industry. Just don't be surprised if some parts are more "hmmmm" than "ho-ho-ho."


House Elf said...

Happy Rudolph day! Looking forward to sitting and working on some Christmas decorations this weekend. Have a nice day! Thanks for the book review!

Dr H said...

Hello. This is my first forray into the Google blogs, so please be kind if I stray from norms with which I am not familiar.

I was led here by a web-search for "Glass Wax stencils," and I see you have an exchange on the topic in your archives from about 4 years ago. From what I have been able to discover, there are hundreds, if not thousands of people who remember decorating windows for Christmas using Glass Wax and stencils, but nobody seems to know what became of Glass Wax, or if any similar replacement product has been developed.

I remember getting "kits" that included stencils, a pink can of Glass Wax, and little plastic coloring packets that could be mixed with the Glass Wax in a saucer to produce red, green, blue, yellow, and brown -- in addition to the plain white that the stuff normally dried into. This was a great holiday activity -- we loved doing it as kids; the scenes looked good; every age could be involved; and after-season cleanup left the windows looking great.

Lately I have wanted to try this again for the holidays, but other than a half-can of Glass Wax that I 've had since at least 2001, I've not been able to find the stuff anywhere, much less the color packets or the stencils.

Still, with all the people who remember doing this, I figure there must be /somebody/ on the web who can solve the mystery, and so, here I am...

I'm not clear on how people respond to such requests here, but anyone with some information, and the inclination to share, may feel free to contact my through e-mail (although I'd be happy to participate in a blog exchange here, if I can figure out how... :-)