I really should write something for the season, shouldn’t I? Something reflective and reverent, or at least respectful. I’m fortunate (or, put upon) this year to have my Wednesday columns out just before the three big end-of-year holidays.

New Year’s Eve is next Thursday. I did do Thanksgiving, column-wise. Isn’t that enough? What do you want from me, a Christmas carol? Charles I am, Dickens no. I’m no messiah; I can’t Handel it.

There’s such pressure. Christmas is so significant in America, and not just if you’re Christian. Even American atheists and agnostics, Jews and Jains, Muslims and Mohicans, Buddhists and Baha’i, Rastafarians and Pastafarians — all honor this special year-end time. As an excuse. To get family together. For that big goose. Dinner.

Even more than Thanksgiving, Christmas is family time. Seriously though, Bob Cratchit, does anyone cook their own goose anymore, or even put one on the table at Christmastime? Where could you even buy one? Probably at the fancy schmancy expensive food markets, but for sure at good old Bob’s Market on Ocean Park. I called, and Richard said yes indeed, Canadian goose, frozen but if you call first they’ll thaw it out for you. There. Public service, done.

I’m very happy for this Christmas dinner. It will be a family affair, the more special and joyous because my son is driving in from New Mexico, and all of us being together hasn’t always happened. There were very long stretches of time when it didn’t. My daughter is on break from UCLA, her last semester (“AND THEN WHAT AM I GOING TO DO!?!”), and my mother-in-law will be joining us from down south, still smiling and energetic and cracking deadpan jokes into her late 80s. Our tree looks great, groaning with heirloom ornaments full of family history. The present pile is propagating, mysteriously.

No goose but we do have a 24-lb Butterball turkey thawing for the occasion, snagged at a great price pre-Thanksgiving. That’s my smart shopper tip for your next Thanksgiving.

Here’s something you didn’t know about me: I am one of the world’s best grocery shoppers. Just yesterday I spent $101, but saved $82. Only two coupons. I hate coupons and they’re usually not worth the trouble. Maybe that’s a column, as Jack Neworth would say. (Then he would add, after a pause, “No, that IS a column!”)

So I’m delightfully distracted by family, but I can’t turn off the news in my head, even if I turn off the TV. And here’s my Christmas observation, not original, and in the spirit of the season I’ll try not to be too mean.

We have way too many ignorant, misinformed, bigoted so-called Christians in this country, the unbelievable Republican candidates for President are goading that bad element into the spotlight, and it’s embarrassing the United States on the world stage but also making the world a much more dangerous place for Americans, and many others.

Trump and his fellow nincompoop bullies — oops, I think I left that “not too mean” intention behind pretty quickly — are playing right into ISIL’s hands. All the top ISIL dudes must eagerly crowd around the TV when another GOP debate is scheduled, and whoop and holler and high five as these Know Nothings trip all over themselves to be the toughest anti-Muslim on the stage.

Not one of them has a snowball’s chance in Death Valley of getting elected, but in their hapless, hopeless charade for the Presidency they are creating such a backlog of sound and video bites that ISIL recruiting will be a breeze for the next decade. The number of jihadists the GOP hopefuls create with their hateful calls to fear and loathing will be hard to estimate. Lots. Lots and lots, of young Muslims will be convinced from what they hear from some of our leading politicians that all Americans hate all Muslims. So Holy War, here we come. Which is exactly what ISIL and Al-Queda and Taliban leaders pray for, and why I’m convinced the attack and slaughter in San Bernardino was a direct reaction to all the recent talk they heard here of the danger of domestic terrorism, from white Christians, not Muslims. Yep, time to give them a couple of Muslims to hate.

That the awful irony seems completely lost on so-called Christians, in their angry calls for blocking all Muslims from seeking refuge and relief in our country — all during the celebration of the story of Jesus’ parents being far from home and unable to find shelter, even with a baby about to arrive, is not so surprising, since the GOP stance on everything is pretty much a repudiation of the Ten Commandments and the words of Jesus.

Have you seen what Canada’s new Prime Minister Trudeau has been doing? Personally welcoming Syrian refugee families. And lots more. I think he and Bernie could work really well together.


You should see what they’re doing over at KPFK, the famed lefty NPR station broadcasting from Studio City. They’re voting on their new governing board, but it’s been on again off again, some ballots not mailed on time, local election supervisor resigns, deadline extended a month, and so much more.

But if you are a member, qualified to vote — again, hard to pin down the rules on that, but it seems to mean having paid your $20 dues or having put in as few as five hours of volunteer time — you still can, online, until Jan. 4.

According to what I’ve researched, and heard from several sources, some longtime listeners and supporters are very unhappy with the current management and practices, that they feel are leading to the demise of the station and even the entire Pacifica network, and are leading an insurrection.

It’s so complicated and draconian I won’t confuse you with issues and innuendo, but if you are a member you should vote — it could be life or death for KPFK. For many reasons, I believe you should vote for the slate called Committee to Strengthen KPFK, and particularly for two very qualified and upstanding Santa Monicans whom I have known for many years, Will Ryan and Jan Goodman.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician’s objective. Election and power are.” —Cal Thomas

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at