Two weeks from today is Christmas, and that always makes me happy. We’ve finally got some cool weather in north Florida, and my wife and I have put up the tree and decorated the house. (There’s a new pic up of Stately Simpson Manor at Martinsimpsonwriting.com, if you’re interested.) The youngest daughter got back from her first semester at college. (Is it unseemly bragging to mention that she got a 4.0 GPA in her first semester? It is? Fine. I’ve got two smart kids, so sue me.)
This season always makes me nostalgic for my Illinois childhood, and the snowy winters that are easy to romanticize when you don’t have to live with dirty snow and sleet that hangs on until the end of March. These days I always make at least one 4-day weekend trip up to see some snow and some cousins each winter, and I am already looking forward to that.
In the meantime, I’ve got a two-computer-screen set-up in the home office, and I always have a video playing on the second screen of a winter cabin with snow falling outside and a fire in the fireplace.
Music has always been a big part of this season for me, too. I know that many in CO nation are not Christians, so if this stuff bothers you, please skip down a few paragraphs and join me in the secular mockery and good cheer…
If you are a Christian, or someone who loves good music regardless, I have a few recommendations –and hope that you all will have a few for me, because I always love coming across good music.
First, old school stuff: if you like classical and don’t love Handel’s Messiah, there’s something wrong with you. We always hear the Hallelujah Chorus excerpt, and there’s a good reason for that: because it’s freaking amazing! I swear that if I didn’t speak English and heard just that chorus, and someone asked me what that piece was about, I’d say, “Christ, obviously!”
I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for a 10-year-old flash mob performance of the chorus in a mall food court, which you can easily find on Youtube. Turn that one up loud.
(By the way, do you notice how, whenever anyone in public is blasting out music, it’s never any good stuff? It’s always some subliterate, bass-heavy monstrosity with the n-word assaulting your eardrums. Just once I’d like to see somebody driving down the road blasting some Handel or Bach!)
I also love the old carols – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Come, All Ye Faithful – preferably done by a brass quartet.
For some cool, quirky versions of old carols, try Sufjan Stevens and his odd banjo and acoustic guitar versions of “O Come Emmanuel,” “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” “Come Thou Fount,” “I Saw Three Ships,” and, “Once in Royal David’s City.” He also introduced me to a 17th century French carol called, “Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella.” His version is really odd, and sounds like it was recorded on a cell phone in the stairwell of a concrete parking garage. But I love it anyway.
Two years ago when I was looking for some snowy scenery videos, I came across a contemporary singer named Audrey Assad. She’s got a beautiful voice, and the first videos I found were beautiful, too. I’d recommend starting with “Abide With Me” and “Even Unto Death,” but a particular favorite of mine is “I Shall Not Want.” (Joe Biden can tell you: the palmist gets a co-writing credit on that one.)
But with all of the good memories associated with Christmas, I know that this is also a very sad time for many people. Nostalgia can be a lot more bitter than sweet, if you are reminded of better times — and loved ones — that are gone. My dad died 6 years ago next week, and that has given this season a little bitter to go with the sweet, for me.
This year, politics has added some bitterness to the season as well. As much as I wasn’t a fan of Trump at first, I came to really appreciate his governance, and his persistence in the face of a relentlessly hostile and petty media. To see how much good he did in his four years, and to see him (as it appears now) replaced by the Scranton Shuffler is indeed a bitter pill to swallow.
But I think there are real reasons for optimism, even in politics, as we head into 2021, and I’ll be writing about those in coming weeks. At this time of year especially, I’m reminded of our tendency to invest too much meaning in politics, and to give it too much power to affect our mood, and our view of the world.
Yes, our politicians have too much control over our lives. And especially if you live in a blue state where they are especially relentless, you may have to move. But we all need to maintain an internal locus of control to the extent we can, and realize that our actions in our house are going to affect our lives more than decisions made in the White House.
Yes, it would be nice if our politicians weren’t a hindrance and an obstacle. But as obstacles go, they’re pretty pathetic. Some of them seem truly malevolent – the ghouls running Planned Parenthood, the racists among BLM, the nihilistic thugs in Antifa – but mostly they’re just small people, and boneheads, and broken in ways that, but for the grace of God go we.
We should be praying for them. But also doing everything we can to thwart their efforts. And part of doing that – luckily for me – is mocking them.
So let me end with a story that came out this week, and that you are probably already following. It’s a story about a Chinese spy and alleged honey-trap seductress who goes by the name Fang Fang. (She’s the spy so nice, they named her twice!) She is supposed to have had affairs with two Midwestern mayors.
Which proves an axiom that doesn’t require proof, at this late date: men are stupid.
Because at least two lumpy guys staying in budget motels and driving city-provided Ford Focuses looked in the mirror and said to themselves, “You know who would really go for my dad bod, and my mayoral clout from running a town she’s never heard of? An Asian cutie half my age!”
But the icing on this commie-in-a-cocktail-dress story is that ol’ Double-Fang also had her hooks into Democrat numbskull and laughing stock Eric Swallwell.
Let me just put my wizard hat on, and I’ll predict what was on the phony dating site profile that she used to snare Swallwell:
- A picture of her in a schoolgirl outfit with a short skirt, making a peace-sign gesture, for some reason.
- Description: “I’m a sweet, submissive Asian girl, looking for a big American man who understands that America is a terrible country that needs to be fundamentally transformed.”
- Turn-ons: Low IQ, flatulence
- Turn offs: mean people, integrity.’
- And that worked. On a US congressman!
And that worked. On a US congressman!
So be of good cheer, because that’s what we’re up against.