About this time each year, or maybe a few weeks earlier, I start watching my old favorite Christmas movies; Christmas Vacation, The Ref, and A Christmas Story, to name a few. But, I’m always on the lookout for new ones, and I couldn’t help but notice the promos for Bill Murray’s new Christmas special – “A Very Murray Christmas.”
Now, who doesn’t like Bill Murray? Certainly not I, so when it came out on Netflix on Dec. 4th, I promptly pulled it up and started streaming.
Now I don’t mean for this to be a movie critique, but it kinda is so I’ll just lay it out there.
The movie starts out, seemingly, that Murray has been planning a huge NY Christmas special, only to be upstaged by a major winter storm that prevents pretty much everyone from coming. Left with a dark, empty stage, being televised to untold millions live, Murray tries to kick off the show, but just can’t pull together enough umph to make it work. And here’s but one of the places where you have to suspend your disbelief, or at the very least, try and overlook one of the HUGE plot holes–because apparently, the major network running his live show, has no issues with him just walking off the stage in a childish fit of “this sucks,” and then picking it back up again 20 minutes later. I guess we’re to believe they ran commercials for 20 minutes (it could happen).
In a fit of despair, Murray begins wandering around the hotel and finds Chris Rock and manages to coerce Rock to join him onstage, only to have the power go out and Rock disappear. One of Murray’s producers declares that this “act of God” nullifies the contract requirement for her to be there and she, and others, walk off the set and leave Murray and Co. alone in the dark in a random NY hotel.
So far, so-so good.
Thus begins a halfway decent tour of the hotel running into various B-list stars, some of whom have really decent singing voices, and the middle of the movie is at least interesting, if still a bit weird (These B-list actors aren’t playing themselves in the movie…or are they…one is never quite sure).
But then, Murray passes out and the rest of the movie is a Murray Fantasy(land) of fake snow, candy canes and…Mylie Cyrus in a skimpy Mrs. Clause outfit belting out Christmas carols while showing off her dozen or so arm and side-breast tatts.
I’ve nothing agains tatts, or even Mylie Cyrus for that matter, but was that really the best talent Murray could drum up for his Christmas special?
Needless to say, it was not Murray’s best efforts, even if you look at it through the lens of “Well, Bill Murray is known for doing wacky things.”
I guess I’ll stick with with the classics next year.
Somewhere between Thanksgiving, and the next day, something magical happens each year in our home. Our “Magic Elves” appear. Santa sends them along on a magical slipstream of wind and snowflakes, to join our family for another season of merriment and mischief.
This is the fifth year.
That means we’ve had to come up with more than 100 clever and unique “things” for the elves to do each night. This is challenging, made moreso by the fact that, unlike the “Elf on the Shelf” our elves are completely soft, so they don’t stay in a pose. You can’t bend their arms and have them stay there. They can’t stand on their own. They literally are, like a sock.
But despite these challenges, we persevere. I’ll try and post some of this year’s exploits here for your enjoyment.
Here’s last night’s. As you can see, the elves created cutouts of minions and stuck their faces and appendages in them. Overall, it was cute, but I’m not sure the kids quite got what was going on here. All they saw was the minion toys and everyone drinking syrup. But hey, cross another one off the list. Only 23 more ideas to come up with.
I gotta tell you that this Christmas, for me, was a terrible disappointment. But not because of any gifts I did or didn’t get. I particularly like the holidays because of all the family get-togethers and the food and quite frankly, there was no good family get togethers or food really and that’s just a shame.
We had some family come and stay with us, but as usual, they didn’t get engaged with the boys. Mostly, they just sat on the couch and slept (BTW: they don’t read this blog!). My wife’s family were nearly all in town and when we did get together, it was mostly over at her parent’s house. Even though their house is large, when you put 20 people in one house, including three children under the age of 2, what you DON’T get is a fun, relaxing family yule-tide meet and greet. Add to that the tummy bug that went through the house ravaging random intestines (we were thankfully spared) and it killed any post-Christmas football watching with the family; another staple of the holiday season.
From a food perspective, we ate well at our house, but again, the family dining adventure where you’re supposed to be able to sample something from everyone’s own kitchen, turned into a catered affair complete with flavors completely foreign to most of our experiences.
On Christmas morning, we ended up with two major purchases having to be returned (shame on you Fisher Price!), but otherwise it was a grand success. On top of that, I spent an inordinate amount of time on a DVD of the boys over the past two years and not one of the people I sent it to has commented on it. I’m not looking for over-the-top gushing platitudes mind you, but a “How Cute!” would have been nice. (Uh huh, don’t try now…it’s too late!)
I know I should be thankful that we were all together and blah, blah, blah; but Christmas only happens once a year. Is it too much to ask for everyone to put forth a little extra effort into making it memorable? Maybe, stay awake and play with the kids? Cook your own dressing and cranberry sauce? Maybe have regular sweet tea WITHOUT fruity flavoring crap in it?
I told CareerMom that next year, if I have to, I’ll cook Christmas dinner for the whole family myself if it means we don’t have to eat another catered meal. I’m just bummed that I have to wait a whole year for a taste of good, home-cooked turkey and dressing.
I really enjoy shopping for CareerMom for Christmas. Inevitably, I end up in a women’s clothing store, preferably in the um…underwear section, where all men (according to the women employees apparently) come when they are clueless and lost as to what to purchase for their wives or girlfriend for the holidays.
The same goes for stores that sell beauty products. It’s always the same scenario:
Me…opening the door jingling the cutesy little bells hanging on the handle. I stop for a moment to look around and gather my bearings:
“OK, underwear and jammies on the right…jeans and knit tops on the left.” I start walking in either direction only to be accosted by a female employee:
“Hello sir, you look utterly lost. May I help you?”
“No thank you,” I say, “I’m good.”
“Great! I’m going to stand over here and pretend to be busy. Just let me know when you figure out that you’re completely in over your head and I’ll come over and rescue you.”
“Will do,” I say, not really meaning it, but knowing that if I do ask a question, I will only further prove to her my ineptness at picking out a gift on my own.
So, I walk around the store striking my most manly poses possible, lest some loitering lady mistake me for a gay man shopping for himself. As I stop to ponder the comfort and coverage afforded by the latest panty, I feel a rush of wind and a different female employee suddenly appears under the guise of folding some garment that has apparently up and disarrayed itself.
“Sir, do you need a woman to show you what a woman likes?” she asks.
I respond with, “No thank you. She’s straight.”
“I’m sorry sir, what did you say?” she quips; not quite trusting her ears.
I say, “I said, No thank you I’m great,” and then I depart the panty island and head over to another section of the store where there are currently no employees. What I really wanted to do was pick up the garment and check it out, but not with HER watching. What kind of perv would she think I was then anyway?
So, it generally goes on like this…I walk around and pretend like I know what I’m doing so as to not draw any attention to myself at all. Then, as I check out, the register lady unerringly tries to dazzle me with soap-math:
“Sir, these are $7.99 a piece or three for $25. Would you like me to get you a couple more?”
Quickly, I try to figure out, “Ok, $7.99…no round that up to $8 and it’ll be easier. What’s 25 divided by 8? 3? They’re $3 a piece if I get 3? Wait…that can’t be right…”
….”sir, do you want to get three for $25?”
“Um, just a sec, lemme think…”
….”sir, there are people waiting…”
“Ok fine, I’ll take three,” I say quickly not wanting to hold up the line of angry, albeit apparently perfectly adept female shoppers. I think to myself that surely I can pawn these extra items off on someone else as an original gift idea.
So, if you get a thong or some bath suds from me, you’ll know where they came from and why I gave such a strange, and slightly disturbing gift to a female family member.
Despite whatever doubts I may have as to the validity of all of the things I’ve been taught regarding Jesus of Nazareth, and his time here on earth, the fact remains that I do believe. Down in whatever dark place I’ve pushed so many other things in my life, the belief that there is a benevolent God out there watching over my family (how else do you explain all the good things I have?) remains a small beacon of hope that if I’m not too bad here on earth, and if I don’t commit the same sins over and over one too many times, that maybe, just maybe when I die, I’ll end up somewhere happy and warm with my family and all of my dead pets.
I don’t believe in much; I have to be honest with you. I feel that the glass is perpetually half-empty and that given half a chance at getting away with it, most people will screw you over for $100. It’s a crappy way to live life, but hey, I’ve lived a life of facts and reality and my reality has shown this to be true for the most part.
I suppose then, this is why I take Christmas to heart like I do. I love Christmas. Oh, I’ll admit that I love the decorating and the cold weather and the fires and the gifts and the food (oh, the food!) more than I really enjoy sitting in church for two hours listening to the pastor try to come up with some unique spin on the Christmas story that no one has ever covered before, but it all goes hand in hand. So much about religion is really about how you feel about it anyway, so why should Christmas be any different?
Given all of this, I’m really offended, not just pretend-offended like so many people—I’m actually offended when non-believers relegate this time of the year to just “The Holidays.” And why do Jewish people get so offended over Christmas? I don’t know which faith first proclaimed this time of year their own, but can’t we all just get along? Can’t we all agree that, “Hey, something deeply moving and spiritual happened at some point in the year, and since we can’t really pinpoint the actual date, we’re all just going to be happy around December.”
To all the non-believers I say fine, you want to celebrate the Holidays, then do it on MLK and Valentines Day. On Christopher Columbus and President’s Day, go all out and decorate. Just let us Christians, for whom you have to thank for this time of year anyway (OK, and maybe Coca Cola is partially responsible too), enjoy this time of year without your having to pee in the punch bowl.