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The Hot Breathe of Christmas

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It’s happening again…the hot breath of Christmas breathes down our necks like fire. Tempers get testy. Time eats up our hours faster than a politician asking for money. The plague of not- enough cash consumes our checkbooks. Visa elves work overtime. Platoons of catalogs clog our mail boxes. So many choices¦who can decide?  The hot breath blows.


It starts around late September. This year I hear a miniature Rudolph singing its tune, testing the waters in Walgreens. It winks at me.  I detect a tiny camera implanted in its eye, ostensibly there to record my response. Spy cameras are everywhere. No one’s safe. Be careful of where you scratch yourself.  

I chew the sugar out of some Dentyne and stick a wad over the lens. Alarms go off. A little fat man runs out. It’s his job to monitor the effectiveness of Rudolf. Marketing schemes now use spyware. Your money’s not safe. If not the shylocks, it’s inflation.  You can’t win. 

This year they’re using external stimuli to incite cravings. Potpourri with hot chocolate scents tease our noses. Willie Wonka lives on. Marshmallow Santas with big grins stand erect, reminding us of holiday cheer. 

Cheer?  Did I just write that?  No, it’s ˜Holiday Assault.’ The music, the music.  In stores it blasts holes in our brains. How long will Jingle Bells be inflicted upon us in 81 degree weather? The hot breath blows.

The Politically Correct Police are active again this year. They’re posing as Obamacare ˜negotiators,’ enforcing the nomenclature of Christmas.  We must refer to it as ˜holiday.’ Religious references now violate civil rights.  Punishment is harsh, administered without protection of habeas corpus.  

Violators are chained, herded into dank rail boxcars and shipped off to hard-labor camps in the cotton-patch gulag near Vidalia. Blaring holiday music brainwashes the perpetuators.  It’s heavy on Elvis’ Blue Christmas and Burl Ives’ Holly Jolly Christmas. All allusions to religious icons must be renounced. To be released one must recite perfectly from memory one hundred times, T’was the Night Before Christmas

It wasn’t always this way. Before the advent of Amazon.com, Christmas was pleasant. We were innocent then. We actually believed in a jolly fat man with a white beard called Santa Claus who lived at the North Pole. Also, that he rewarded good little boys and girls.  Recently I discovered a letter written to him when I was eight. My mother had saved it. It may be a clue to why Santa shorted me on some items:

Dear Santy, I am a good boy. I brush my teeth today. I wash my feet. I eat my spinach. Now, bring me a bike so I can leave home and a BB gun so I can shoot my friend Billy. And forget my little brother.  He is stupid. Signed, your friend.  PS, you are fat, so don’t eat all the cookies.  (The hot breath of Christmas scorched me that year!)

Those were the days. We had real Christmas trees of reasonable size, not the flocked, store-bought ones. We decorated them with lights that had colored bubbles going up and down. They still mesmerize me.

Over time tradition changed¦bigger got better. We bought fourteen foot trees. They took a week to decorate and even longer to dispose of. Truck-loads of presents looked miniscule beneath them.

Alas, like our parents, we get older, and the trees get smaller until they sit on coffee tables by the fire place.  Scattered underneath are now bags of nuts”brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans and others of unknown origin dating from the Indian pogroms of the 19th century.

Shopping has changed, too. Online beats fighting the mall frenzy. But it lacks the spectacle of people-watching. One evening a couple of years ago I walked out of Neiman’s in an Atlanta mall. A lingerie shop was next door. A crowd of old men clutching small bags were gathered in front of the plate glass windows. I stopped to observe.

The clerks were changing out the female manikins with lacey unmentionables. Heavy breathing hummed to the Mall music of Joy to the World. The crowd grew. The energy was intense. I think I know what their letters to Santa might have said. And I’m sure they were disappointed! Sometimes the hot breath of Christmas blows cold! 


This year I’m giving my wife a gift that keeps on giving¦a life-sized bust of me, carved from an ancient cypress log by a boy in Hoboken. It should be a real scorcher!

Editor’s Note:  Visit Bud’s blog at www.budmanrants.blogspot.com. He can also be reached by email at BudHearn@mindspring.com.

Illustration courtesy of Leslie Hearn.

Bud is a farm-boy, raised in a farming community is SW Georgia. Farm experiences continue to give him particular insights into life. He attended the University of Georgia, graduating with a BBA-Real Estate with a minor in English. He was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity. He moved to Atlanta in 1964 where for 50 years he has had a career in land and other real estate investments.

Bud moved to Sea Island, Georgia in 2004, where he now resides and where he continues in the real estate investment business.

His varied interests include long-distance running (and other athletic endeavors); travel; musical pursuits, including piano, violin and banjo; and writing. Writing has always been a passion. As Bud says, “Sometimes I feel like a short dog in tall grass when comparing my written thoughts to those in the literary Hall of Fame. But then, I remember that life is like a dog that buries bones in the sands on a one-way ticket to Mecca…vanity of vanities. So, I write, leaving some of my bones in the sands of time as I move on.” You can find more of his writings on his website, www.theweaklypost.com.

He can be reached at budhearn@mindspring.com.

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