Sunday, December 21, 2014

Listening to the language of the holidays

From today's TIMES and NEWS-STAR

The waiting room at the doctor’s office is as far away from the North Pole as Fourth of July is from Christmas. By definition, you are in a room where you do nothing but grab a creased Newsweek with Clinton on the cover and wait.

So I listened. And was not surprised. Coughs. Sneezes. Harsh words about a co-pay. And I thought, It really IS beginning to sound a lot like Christmas.

If Santa comes in moaning with the flu, we’ll have touched all the bases.

I love me some sounds of Christmastime, even though one of those sounds is a sniffle, and a standard is the inspired blowing of a nose. Hark the herald…

There’s the sound of the angry shopper, the screeching tires, the curse word when the lights don’t work, and the timeless “Are we there yet?”

Those are Christmas-seasoned but could happen almost any time. Christmas, though, Christmas has a language all its own, a language you hear only this time of year. Not a lot of Santa spottings in summertime.

When do you hear “figgy pudding” or “ho ho ho” or “What size sweater you think he wears?” except at Christmastime?


The Island of Misfit Toys.

Burl Ives.

Andy Williams singing “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “The Andy Williams Christmas Special.” Came on public television the other night, a retrospective. Andy Williams, one of the finest gentleman and most talented entertainers to ever walk onto a stage, didn’t invent the Christmas sweater, but he probably perfected it …

Silver bells. Jingle bells. Sleigh bells. The bells of the Salvation Army.

Holly jolly.

Brenda Lee -- and if you don’t know how to bake a pie, Sara Lee!

Dean Martin singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” (Reminder: Dean Martin, most underrated entertainer ever.)

“Ha…llelujah! Hallelujah. Hallelujah!”

What’s your favorite Christmas sound? Could be your children, if you have little ones. Could be the memories of how your grown ones sounded when they were little ones. Maybe it’s your family arriving – or leaving! I know it’s not “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.” (See “inspired nose blowing,” above.)

Christmas sounds are Ralphie asking for a BB gun and “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas” and my favorite Christmas movie, “Scrooged,” which concludes with the Bill Murray character, TV exec Frank Cross, the modern-day Scrooge now re-born into the wonder of Christmas, saying that Christmas Eve is “…the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!”

Christmas is the sound of someone, somewhere, changing.

It’s December words and phrases like Bethlehem and shepherds keeping watch …

And lo, the angel of the Lord…

Unto you is born this day in the city of David…

The wise men…

A manger and swaddling clothes.

And somewhere in all these Christmas words and sounds, between a baby crying and the cattle lowing and our carol singing, is the blessed sound of fullness…in silence. Not emptiness, but fullness.

Silent night, holy night.

The noise of nothing, which is the sound of everything. You’ll hear it if you try – and sometimes, even if you don’t.

Sounds good to me.