Some notes on Christmas ’06:
*We watched It’s a Wonderful Life last night. I hadn’t seen it in years (except for the 30-second bunnies version), so I remembered hardly any of the essential details. It’s a good movie, despite some strange editing errors, and the ending is genuinely moving. However, there was a hilariously dated part near the end (spoiler warning, I guess). George Bailey is wandering around Pottersville, discovering one alternate-reality horror after another – his brother is dead, the downtown is a center of sin and misery, the place is called Pottersville – all because he’s never been born. Then, finally, he comes upon the final straw, the awful revelation that sends him racing back to the bridge to beg for his life back: his wife is unmarried at 35! And she’s a librarian! And she wears glasses!
I mean, when George asks Clarence “where’s my wife? Where’s Mary?” and Clarence doesn’t want to tell him, I sort of assumed that she was a prostitute or a burlesque dancer or something. But no, she’s just an old maid with her hair in a bun. And why would George’s absence make her wear glasses, anyway? Maybe it’s related to being a librarian, because reading is super-bad for women’s vision.
*I’ve come full circle from the Christmas ideal, where people give you things you like so you can save your money for things you need. The problem is that the adults in my life have no connection to things I like; it feels weird to ask my parents for albums they’ve never heard of, let alone the video games that they thought I was going to outgrow eventually. So the best Christmas presents I get these days are practical gifts – clothes, reference books – that let me save my money for toys. That culminated in my best present so far this year: a new set of hubcaps for my car, whose wheels have been naked (and gradually rusting) for as long as I’ve owned it. I was outside putting them on, hearing the neighborhood kids yell their favorite presents to each other: “I got the new iPod!” “I got an XBox 360!” Meanwhile there I was, hammering on my Christmas present, making an old car new.
*Finally, James Brown died. I was stunned; I had no idea he was 73, and even then he’s been such an icon for my entire life that it’s impossible to imagine him dead. Down here in Yorba Linda, I found out online; he died too late for the newspaper, and it occurred to me that my parents (who don’t get online very often) wouldn’t have heard. I planned to tell them during my “Merry Christmas” call, but I couldn’t do it. You can’t interrupt a gift-giving session with news like that.