Christmas has finally arrived. That means in one more week, the day after New Year’s, we’ll all be on diets. I’m Jewish, and should be biased toward Chanukah but, between the two, Christmas wins, hands down. I mean, who’s more lovable than Santa Claus? (On the other hand, he only visits people only once a year.)
A few aspects to Christmas trouble me. Why does Santa go by “Saint Nick or “Kris Kringle?” (Is he in the witness protection program?) And why is Christmas called X-mas and Yuletide? The story is charming, Santa and the elves at the North Pole and flying reindeer etc., but Santa coming down the chimney? C’mon. Just look at the average chimney and then look at Santa’s stomach.
I’m not sure how the “naughty and nice” came about (from the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”) or the tradition of children writing Santa at the North Pole. Frankly, for Jewish kids, it was a wasted stamp. We could have used a mythical grandmother in Miami Beach, “Dear Bubbe, please send me a new skateboard!”
Chanukah’s got the menorah and dreidel, (a four-sided spinning top) neither the stuff of blockbuster holiday movies. Put it this way, I don’t envision a sequel of “Miracle on 34th Street” dubbed “Miracle on Fairfax.”
Oddly enough, gentile kids used to be envious of the many gifts we got for Chanukah. (One every night.) But the truth is, Chanukah gifts aren’t generally the quality of Christmas gifts. A ruler, or 3×5 cards, or notebook paper could count for one night. Trust me, the eight-gifts schtick was overrated.
I suppose that when I think of a typical Christmas scene, it’s from the movies. I picture a fire in the fireplace (hopefully in the fireplace or it’s 911) an ornament-festooned tree, and everyone gleefully opening presents. I imagine that all day in the kitchen there have been preparations for the big dinner, while the men (and women?) sneak off to watch Kobe and Lebron. (Lakers v. Cavs today, channel 7 at 2 p.m.)
While Dec. 25 is a holy day for Christians around the world, for sophisticated “followers” of the NBA, it marks the real beginning of the season.
You see, the problem with the NBA is that it never ends. Pre-season starts in late summer, runs through fall, winter, spring and concludes in summer again. Add that 16 of the 30 teams in the league make the playoffs, and the season is an eternity.
The playoffs are so long they’re actually called the “second season.” Fortunately, for Laker fans, we’re blessed with a great team. (Knock on wood, or in my case, Formica.) The Lakers have the NBA’s best record at 23-4 although I have my fingers crossed for today. (Which might explain the typos.)
Credit for the Lakers’ greatness not only goes to Kobe and Co., but also owner, Dr. Jerry Buss. He may be a bit naughty, i.e. dating women half his age and getting a ticket for DUI, but he has been more than nice to Laker fans.
In the 30 years that Buss has owned the Lakers, they’ve been to the NBA finals 15 times! In their 51 years, the L.A. Dodgers have been to the World Series eight times. Their last appearance was in 1988. The Lakers’ won their 15th title just last year.
Buss spends his money on players, the McCourts spend theirs on houses. Now that they’re getting divorced, we can only hope they’re forced to sell the team.
Continuing with the naughty and nice theme, Tiger Woods, with 14 mistresses, certainly defines naughty. The good news for Tiger is that no new mistresses have come forward. The bad news is that his wife Elin seems determined to get half of his worth (her share may be $400 million) and custody of the kids. Meanwhile Tiger’s getting unsolicited advice from famed golfer John Daly, an alcoholic/gambleholic who’s been divorced three times.
More than naughty is Roman Polanski who’s out on bail and living in his Swiss chalet. Polanksi faces possible extradition to Los Angeles for having sex with a 13-year-old girl 32 years ago. Many Hollywood celebrities have protested Polanski’s arrest, including Woody Allen. Given that he had sex with his teenage stepdaughter, Woody vouching for your character might be a curse.
Grand jury transcripts reveal that the girl’s mother had asked to go on the photo shoot, but Polanski refused. Also, Vogue Magazine seems to be denying that there was a photo shoot assignment, meaning Polanski may have fabricated it as a ruse to lure girls.
On that uplifting note, and in the words of Charles Dickens’ immortal Tiny Tim, “God bless us everyone!” It’s a shame Dickens didn’t write about Chanukah. Instead of Tiny Tim it could have been Short Sidney.
If he’s not busy watching the Lakers, Jack can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.