Your questions answered, plus ME IN A BONNET

To answer the three most frequently asked questions I’ve gotten from people since we got engaged last weekend:

1.) Chris and I haven’t set a date yet, but are planning for sometime in the fall.

2.) No, we are NOT having a Little-House themed wedding. I will not wear a poke bonnet, walk down the aisle to fiddle music, and ride off on a covered wagon. It’s sort of cool that Laura Ingalls Wilder wore black for her wedding, but I seriously doubt I could pull off that look without looking like Louise Fletcher in Flowers in the Attic.  (And no, we are not having a V.C. Andrews-themed wedding either, though if another couple ever decides to go that route, PLEASE SEND PICTURES.)

3.) Also, Chris did not propose on a buggy ride while driving his team of Morgan horses. How did Almanzo manage to slip the ring onto Laura’s finger with one hand while he held the reins with the other? He had some slick moves, that Manly. Chris made me get out of the car. (And then walk with him to the pop-the-question spot.) I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We just barely got the tree up this season, I haven’t baked any cookies or made any gingerbread creations (sorry), and I totally missed seeing the Santa Train, but this is turning out to be one of the best holidays ever.

Speaking of Christmas and wearing bonnets: as much as I loved the Little House books as a kid, I never had my own sunbonnet or any other kind of prairie girl getup. You’d think this would’ve bothered me, but somehow it didn’t, and now I remember why. It’s because for two Christmas seasons, right around the peak of my Little House adoration, I got to dress up all 19th-century for a community theater adaptation of “A Christmas Carol.”

It was a musical production at the Village Players theater in Oak Park and it was called, I kid you not, Ebenezer! I was in the children’s chorus. The first year I performed (1980 I think?) I got to wear a long red velvet dress, a bonnet, and a shawl. The second year my costume had a fur muff.  I knew from reading On the Banks of Plum Creek that muffs were the It Accessory of the 1870s, and I about lost my mind when the wardrobe lady gave me one to wear.

Here I am in my red dress, delivering my one line, which I can still remember: “I got new skates! They’re made out of real steel!”

Maybe I wasn’t convincing enough, because in the following year’s production my line was simply, “Oh, there’s Tim.” But whatever, I had the MUFF that year.  If you look in the picture below, I think the girl in the white cape in the front row had it.

Why the heck weren’t we wearing gloves if it was supposed to be December in London? We look way too happy and warm to be Dickensian urchins. Also the kid in black on the left is supposed to be Tiny Tim. That’s right: the tallest kid in the group. But never mind, it was Christmas. God bless us, everyone!  And God help us this next year.  Merry Christmas!

Bah Humbug! No, that’s too strong, ’cause it is my favorite holiday

Just another night in the village


1. While people are free to record their own renditions of any traditional holiday song in the public domain, if they want to change the lyrics for commercial purposes, they should have to pay a massive, exorbitant royalty to do so. If some jackass wants to foist upon the world a line like Deck the halls with Walgreen’s Savings!, it’s only fair that he pay through his very shiny nose for the privilege. Proceeds from the royalties would go to various charities. Obvious exception to the rule: “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells,” because that is a classic.

2. The few dozen holiday pop songs that are now part of the contemporary canon should NOT be covered by other pop artists for a certain number of years following their original release date. Like maybe even fifty years. No, really, I feel this rule has become necessary due to the many recent terrible versions of Wham’s “Last Christmas” swirling around the airwaves, like a crap blizzard that grows thicker every year.

Look, I don’t even like “Last Christmas” that much, but I just think Taylor Swift and Hillary Duff and Coldplay and all the other posers need to back the hell off and let George and Andrew have their hammy synthesizer pop-ballad glory every holiday season until around Christmas 2035, when middle-aged Miley Cyrus can record it as a duet with the cryogenically preserved head of Bret Michaels. Until then, she and everyone else ought to try writing their own original songs instead of cashing in on someone else’s successful bid for holiday music immortality. Because one of the things that I love about modern Christmas music is that it’s such a crazy collage of decades, with Bing Crosby and The Ronettes and the Carpenters and Jose Feliciano and The Waitresses all captured in little retro snowglobes of their eras. Remaking those songs to sound more up-t0-date and/or fit some acceptably hipster aesthetic seems control-freakish and sad, like those color-coordinated Christmas trees that you see in magazines. IT IS NOT RIGHT.

3. I enjoy “The Little Drummer Boy” enough that for most of the song I am able to suspend whatever general skepticism I may have about the existence of percussion instruments and drum majors in the Biblical era. I’m totally with the Little Drummer Boy all the way up to the line “the ox and lamb kept time,” and then the bubble totally bursts. The ox and lamb kept time? Are you kidding, song? Am I really expected to suddenly just imagine livestock jiving along in some crazy bullshit Max Fleischer cartoon scene right then and there? Seriously, it ruins everything until the next time I hear the song.

4. “Let it Snow” is still pretty demented, but I love when Ella Fitzgerald sings it.

5. “The Christmas Song” still makes me feel dead inside, but I tolerate it in order to be part of society.

6.  The Paul McCartney Christmas song is way more fun than the John Lennon Christmas song.  This is partly Chris’s doing, because he pointed out that “(Simply Having) A Wonderful Christmastime” sounds for all the world like Paul’s in his living room on Christmas morning trying out wacky chords on the new synthesizer that he just unwrapped. Barrp-barrp-barrp-barrp BOINGG! Barrp-barrp-barrp-barrp BOINGGGG! “Brilliant keyboard, Linda!”  Not to knock John and Yoko and the whole “war is over if you want it” thing, but sometimes what you want is to just sit around in your pajamas for awhile.

Am I the only one who thinks this much about Christmas music?