Oh, for Christ’s sake, it’s the most wonderful time of the year no matter whose face is on your green coffee cup

I sent out 15 Christmas cards on Monday with greetings of “Joyeux Noel et bonne annee.”

At no point during either the design or delivery of the cards did I devote a second of ponder to the possibility that they might put some noses out of joint. I mean, it’s a card. It’s a greeting. It’s my way of telling someone that they’re dear to me and I’m thinking of them. Can’t get more harmless than that, right?

Except it has come to my attention that card-sending can be a risky bit of business.

United States President Barack Obama, for example, is again under heavy fire from conservative extremists because, in keeping with the tradition of his eight years of residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington, D.C., this year’s official White House Christmas card is not a Christmas card. It is a “Happy Holidays” card that makes no mention of a messianic birth in a Bethlehem barn some 2,000-plus years ago.

This omission, apparently, qualifies him as President Bah Humbug and aligns him in league with the Devil.

“Merry Christmas…er…scratch that. We are the Obamas and it’s Some Random Holiday,” was a sarcastic, snotty, how-dare-he tweet from that noted still-wheezing Alaskan gasbag Sarah Palin, a self-described “Bible-believing Christian” who, along with her hard-core conservative ilk, ignore the reality that the winter holiday/festival season is not the sole province of Christians.

There are approximately two dozen celebrations between Nov. 1 and mid-January that involve Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other religious or secular groups. Yet President Obama must, must, must give Christmas top billing, otherwise he has launched a scud missile at the very heart of America.

“Protecting the heart of Christmas will lead to protecting the heart of our nation,” is how Palin puts it.

Yes, by all means, in his quest to “make America great again,” surely president-elect Donald Trump’s first order of business once he’s hunkered down on Pennsylvania Avenue NW must be to put the words “Merry Christmas” back on White House stationary. ISIS, terrorism and building border walls can wait. The war on Christmas must be won first.

But is there really a war on Christmas? Well, there must be. I mean, this year’s Starbucks holiday cup is green. Yes, green! With a bunch of squiggly faces on it—and not one of those faces belongs to Jesus Christ. The devil, you say! Must be the work of that Obama fella. After all, he sent out all of those non-Christmas Christmas cards.

Look, although raised Roman Catholic, I confess that I have difficulty with the Christian nativity narrative.

A virgin birth? In a barn or cave or stable? Three wise men following the brightest star in the sky and travelling many miles on camelback to pay homage to a messiah in a manger? Angels whispering in Joseph’s ear (or the virgin Mary’s ear, depending on whether you choose to believe Matthew or Luke)? Quite the flight of fancy, I dare say.

Having said that, however, if I’m walking the streets and notice a nativity scene displayed in a neighborhood yard or in a store-front window, I take no offence.

I don’t look at religion-themed Christmas displays or a brightly lit evergreen tree as sales pitches to lure me inside a church for the first time in decades, and it matters not if I believe the Christian nativity narrative to be historically accurate, or if I believe it to be as bogus as most of the Trumpster’s outrageous claims during the U.S. presidential election campaign. To me, a Christmas tree is no more a religious symbol than Santa Claus is an Olympic hockey champion. It’s a symbol of the holiday season.

Similarly, my knickers are not twisted into a knot if someone wishes me a “Merry Christmas” or I’m given a “Happy holidays” greeting. I’m good with it all.

You want to celebrate Christmas because you believe it to be Jesus’s birthday? Go for it. You want to dance and argue around the Festivus pole with George, Frank and Estelle Costanza? Grab your partner. Just enjoy it. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. No matter whose face is or isn’t on your green coffee cup.


Depression, golfers and gunslingers

Nobody is going to drive me around the bend, because I’m already there.

patti dawn swansson
patti dawn swansson

Yup. Depression.

The diagnosis arrived last week. How deep is my depression? Well, when I left my doctor’s office he handed me a coal miner’s hat. And a canary. So it’s bad.

Oddly enough, however, the knowledge that I’m officially depressed made me feel better.

Seriously. It did. And I actually went two complete days without crying.

Chronic weeping, understand, is what sent me in search of answers. It was imperative that I understand why I was crying every…single…day. Not just once a day. Not just twice a day. Sometimes the tears would flow more than half a dozen times. And I’m not talking misty-eyed sentiment. I’m talking full-blown blubbering. Or, as I like to call them, Patti-melts.

And what triggered my Patti-melts? Just about anything, everything, anyone and everyone.

Tiger Woods is just one of the many culprits who set off my waterworks. Yes, Tiger Woods. His Royal Randiness.

As it happened, I was lounging on my loveseat one Sunday afternoon when I stumbled upon a golf tournament on TV. It was the Bay Hill somethingorother event and Woods had matters well in hand as he approached the 18th green. This was to be his first PGA victory since his former bride, Elin, took a 7-iron to his head after she discovered he’d been sleeping with every bimbo/waitress/hostess on three continents.

And I started crying.

That’s when I knew I was sick.

I mean, Tiger Woods is foul-mouthed. He’s ill-tempered and ill-mannered. And he’s a male oinker. Yet there I was, bawling because His Royal Randiness was about to do something that had exactly zero impact or meaning on my life.

Good grief. What next? I cry because Sarah Palin won’t be President?

Spare me.

I suppose I should thank Tiger Woods, though.

The moment he made me cry, you see, I began to track my Patti-melts. I recorded the dates and noted the triggers that set me off. In a 31-day period, I cried 77 times. I had just six cry-free days. I cried when I watched Doc Adams pull a bullet out of Festus Haggen‘s back on Gunsmoke. I cried when I heard Alan Jackson singing Here in the Real World. I cried when I was telling my friend Cullen about coaching Peanuts baseball back in the 1970s. I cried five times while watching a movie about Jesse James, for goodness sakes.

You know you’re deep into depression when you’re weeping over golfers and gunslingers.

I just hope there’s a way out.

I’m not ROFLLMAO about UR new way of writing

Once upon a time, people wrote in sentences.
Oh, yes, as sure as Mark Twain scribbled The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, people would use nouns and verbs and adjectives and periods and commas and italicize words for effect. They would spell out their words. And spell them correctly.
So, what happened?
When did the written word become a lost art?
Was it when Paul David Hewson named himself Bono, put on a pair of sunglasses, got a few lads together and named his band U2?
I mean, shouldn’t his band be called You, Too?
And when did the word “boys” become “boiz” and the word “girls” become “gurls?”
I realize that English is a living language, but it appears to me that what passes for the written word today is the fast-food version of English, which is to say not terribly nourishing or appetizing.
Let me provide an example.
“I had a gr8 time @ ur party 2nite. HF, LMAO. Am 4tunate 2 have such a BFF.”
I actually found that on a Facebook page. And by no means is it a rare example of the bludgeoning the written word is taking these days. I see it all the time.
I am being dot.commed to death with ROFLLMAO, LMGAYAO, LMAO, HFA, HF, LOL, WTF, OMG, keep ur $$$ and the like.
I swear, I need some1 from U.S. Army Intelligence to decode my e-mail and Facebook messages.
Like, what the H are u telling me when u stick a D: @ the end of ur missive? It was bad enough when I received one D:, but then I received a double whammy—D:D:. What’s up with that? R u swearing @ me? R u mocking me? R u laughing @ me? I know DD isn’t my cup size, so what does it mean?
Then there’s :*(. This means exactly what?
Help me. Please.
I haven’t been this confused since I first heard Sarah Palin speak.
& what’s the deal with all the UPPER CASE? Don’t u realize that when u use upper case ur YELLING @ ME? Y R U YELLING @ ME?
I must confess that I am somewhat dinosaurish, in that my embrace of new things often arrives grudgingly. That’s not to say I cling to the past like an old hippy who has yet to escape the ’60s. I very much live in the present.
But, I still prefer to play my vinyl albums rather than CDs and I have a larger collection of VHS movies than DVD flics. My TV, meanwhile, is so antiquated that I think it still has tubes in the back, and my tendency is to watch older shows. In low def.
Seriously. Don’t even get me started on hi-def TV. Why do I need hi-def TV? Does Elliott Ness catch more bad guys if I watch The Untouchables in hi-def? Does Perry Mason win more cases in hi-def? Does Granny Clampett cook better hog jowls and possum shanks, or does Jethro Bodine get past the sixth grade in hi-def?
The thing is, I can understand why other people want all these fancy new gizmos. Like automobiles that talk to you and park themselves, telephones that take pictures, and TV screens that are the size of a soccer goal.
But the rot of the written word I don’t get. I’m definitely not LMFAO or ROFLLMAO about that.
Y do u have 2 write in code? Y can’t u type out the words why and you? 4 goodness sake, r u in that much of a hurry?
Oh, and one final thing: If all those symbols that I don’t understand really mean that you’re swearing at me, then :*(:):):D@$oP to you, too!

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