In search of story


Connections: December 18.16

2015-12-14-uncle-mistletoesBack in the day

when shopping was grand

with a hat on your head

and a glove on your hand

Marshall Field’s was the place

to wander slack-jawed

wide-eyed and gasping

covetous and awed.

Field’s was the place

to play “let’s pretend”

with your grandma, your mom

or your best girlfriend.

Uncle Mistletoe, Aunt Holly

in Christmas benevolence

nodded and twinkled

amid grandeur and elegance

part of a world

that flattered and taunted

and taught us we couldn’t

have everything we wanted.

More thanks to the S.W. Berg Photo Archives

and to the D.J. Berg Christmas Panorama.



The hurly-BURLy

It is with abject horror that I approach this season. My ears quail in anticipation; my brain quivers: it’s time for Christmas Shopping Music. By all the gods and fates and muses, even the culture that spawned reality stars doesn’t deserve this!

At all times of the year, most retail businesses have their “music” turned up to unhealthy decibel levels. But at Christmas time, they go one worse: Burl Ives. Should be Burl Hives because I can feel the brain histamine rush as the holly-jollies fill the air and my neurons swell and itch.

I have voted that goatee’d jingle the most like torture, the national anthem of the overwhelmingly unmusical cacophony of it all. Sound that wraps us in a kinetic swaddle of twaddle: rhythm and volume and mindlessness. Is it supposed to make us spend? It makes me run. I am a danger to others when Burl Ives comes through those ceiling speakers.

Did Burl know that he would come to be this obnoxious? And how about Bing? Did he know that his mele-kaliki-whatever would weary us in footsore lines? Did Gene Autry, whose voice conjures memories of 78s and a distant childhood, know that he would be sucked into this sameness? I’d rather hear Champion. Which, of course, brings us to The Chipmunks. My knees buckle.

Tune it out, you say? At this decibel level? It would be like trying to tune out a jackhammer. Besides, I am not one of the lucky ones who can shut out sound. Even were it all quietly played, I’d still hear it. The monotony of a billion parumpapumpums is — for me — inescapable.

The obvious solution to this problem is to shop only at the library until January. I’ll let you know how that goes.