To the Naughty…to the Nice

Merry Christmas if you really nailed it this year. Merry Christmas if you didn’t

Merry Christmas is you dropped 5 bucks in the big red bucket. Merry Christmas if you tipped the sax player on the street.

Merry Christmas if you wired a wreath to the front of your fire truck. Merry Christmas if there are antlers on your Ford.

Merry Christmas to the Northern Lights. Merry Christmas to the naughty…the nice.

Merry Christmas if you give everything you earn to the IRS, your mortgage banker, your cell carrier, your kids. Merry Christmas if you’re leery of 2023.

Merry Christmas if you’re silly. Merry Christmas if you’re sad.

“What is Christmas?” asked artist Agnes Pharo. “It is the tenderness of the past, the courage for the present, and hope for the future.”

That’s a lot to ask of this creaky old holiday. Yet…

Merry Christmas to Mexico. Merry Christmas to France.

Merry Christmas if Santa looks younger than you.

Merry Christmas if you think the best holiday movies are in black and white.

Merry Christmas even if you’re tired of hearing Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas if you’re sick of cheap sentiment.

I get it. Decency shouldn’t come and go. It isn’t seasonal. Decency is a bedrock American value. Seems wrong that we’re extra decent only at Christmas.

“Madness is nobility of soul at odds with circumstance,” wrote Roethke.

Well, that’s convenient, isn’t it? It forgives too much. To my mind, nobility of soul triumphs over madness.

Then again, I’m an old softy … a Cubs fan … a sucker for the holidays. What do I believe in?  I believe in everything.

Merry Christmas if words are your wrapping paper. Merry Christmas if “Chestnuts” stirs your soul.

Merry Christmas if you can spot an ideogram in the winter sky.

Merry Christmas if you’re in it just for the cookies. Merry Christmas if you’re in it just for the rum.

Merry Christmas if you’re into the sculptures of Bernini. Merry Christmas if you’ve a soft spot for Thomas Kincade.

Merry Christmas if you think that, in “Christmas Vacation,” Beverly D’Angelo was magnificent, dressed and coiffed to look like Donna Reed.

Merry Christmas if you like the parties. Merry Christmas if you really don’t.

“What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day,” joked the great Phyllis Diller.

Merry Christmas if you’re favorite part is the sweaters, the scarves, the plaid. Man, I love plaid. Each Christmas, I become my dad.

Merry Christmas, Pops.

Merry Christmas, Mom, Posh and Christopher. Aunt Stephanie. Cousins Ricky and Andrew. Grandma Charlotte. Merry Christmas to my late buddies Don and Paul too.

Merry Christmas to the doctors and the nurses and the volunteers who play the grand piano in the hospital lobby.

This is how bad it is right now: Before he could get a room, my buddy Ulf waited two days housed in a storage closet at a local ER. “Everybody yells here,” he said of the other patients. “I use sugar. Guess who gets results?”  he asks.

“The yellers?”

“Yep,” he says. “The yellers.”

Bless Ulf, the wisest wiseguy around, as he outruns the storm clouds that have been hounding him. Bless his beautiful soulmate, Brooke.

Bless all my silly buddies – past and present — who fill the world with their belly laughs.

Bless those who show patience in an era where, as novelist Walter Kirn put it, so many scolds are,   “Spitting with righteousness, so strict, so pinched, Victorian rectors pointing bony fingers.”

Merry Christmas to those who make the music. Merry Christmas to those who finesse the food.

Merry Christmas to door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles.

Merry Christmas to white Christmases (If the white runs out, I’ll drink the red).

Merry Christmas to the guys and gals who drive the plows, work the ski lifts, deliver mountains of  packages.

Merry Christmas to Smartacus, my sidekick, my very best pal.

Merry Christmas to my sisters … my lovely and patient older daughter, to Finn, Aunt Rapunzel and Uncle Truck.

Merry Christmas to my Christmas angel, Catty Cakes. Merry Christmas to the beguiling beauty with moonlight for hair.

Merry Christmas to Christmas. 

A very Merry Christmas to you.

Dedicating this Christmas Eve column to my pals Margaret and Murph and anyone else facing health issues this season. Hang in there. The lights will shine even brighter next year when you’re feeling better. Hugs to all.

Like this gin & tonic Christmas tree? Clip a branch from your tree, plop it in a half-inch of water and freeze for an hour. The frozen pond at the bottom serves as your tree stand and your ice cube (you’ll get a really chilled drink). A sprig of sage or juniper also works. Come join me Wednesday Dec. 28 for a little holiday toast. Holding it in Montrose in north Glendale. Space is limited, so the first 25 to respond will make the list and get details. To RSVP, email Cheers!

23 thoughts on “To the Naughty…to the Nice

  1. Love this and ALL your Holiday posts this season. I can’t wait to read my favorite, the “Savor Every Moment” one, aloud at the Christmas table tomorrow. Look, you even started a Christmas tradition in somebody else’s home! If that doesn’t make you Santa, I don’t know what does. Merry Christmas from our family to yours, Chris.

    1. …..and a Very Merry Christmas to YOU. Chris!
      Thank you for touching almost all the bases and reminding us to live, laugh and love each other. You managed to capture the true spirit of Christmas in your unique way with words.
      Do you even know how much we enjoy reading your musings? Thank you for making two days a week a little brighter for us all.

  2. Merry Christmas Chris from my family to yours! What a year round gift it is to have these columns twice weekly to enlighten, entertain, inform and move us. Have fun toasting on 12-28 (a day after my birthday,12-27 when I’ll be toasting!) Cheers and Merry Christmas!

  3. May the light shine bright in every corner of your world and especially your martini glass. Merry Christmas! May you have many more Caty Cakes.

  4. Chrus, what a great reminder of the things we should be thankful in this holiday season. Have a toast of your favorite libation and looking forward to a better 2023! 🤗💕

  5. Merry Christmas to the man who has brought smiles and tears into our home for as long as I can remember. We feel as though your family is part of our family. Thank you, and God bless you and Suzanne and all of your family this Christmas and every day to follow.

  6. Quiet, warmth, pleasure, beauty, remembrance, feelings…elation , laughter, love; the arts of living. I’m all in. Aren’t you?
    Merry Christmas!!!(!).

  7. MERRY CHRISTMAS Chris, and to all of
    Your Family and loved ones… You are such a treasure, bringing smiles and joy to all with whom you share your wit and wisdom!! Happy and Healthy 2023!

  8. Merry Christmas, Mr. Erskine… Like my compatriot Geri Witt, I so look forward to your weekly missives, they are worth every penny I pay for my Pasadena Outlook subscription!

  9. Thanks for the beautiful column. I’m one of the many who’s missing the festivities this year due to illness. I look forward to a better new year! Thank God for my husband who is taking such good care of me! Thanks again for cheering me up! Merry Christmas! 🎄

  10. May your friend Ulf be blessed with good health! Merry Christmas to Christmas, love it! Merry Christmas to you & yours!

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