It’s Christmastime again

Well, here we are once more.

The calendars are running out of days, we’re about to shift from fall to winter, and the various forms of Christmas surround us.

Some might say there is only one Christmas, but look around at what we go through every year. It’s an annual blend of “Awesome! Isn’t this great!” and “Oh, my God. How am I ever going to get all this done?” Add in, “No, we’re going to do it THIS way” or, “No, we were with your family last year” and there are unlimited combinations of ways for it to go wrong.

Christmas has become a blend of joyous events, parties, Santa pictures, holiday treats and gatherings, paired with deadlines, stress, expectations and hardline requirements on what makes a perfect Christmas.

Oh, I have a perfect Christmas in mind. It would be me and my kids and their kids all gathered at the house, with grandma getting a chance to see her descendants in person instead of just on Facebook. But grandma lives in California and these days, traveling is just not an option. Both my kids and their families are playing it safe and minimizing their holiday celebrations, out of concern for the safety of themselves and the family. I get it. Perfection will have to wait for another year.

Over the years, very, very few Christmas celebrations have ever been perfect. But if you look for the good, think of all those great moments you did get to experience. I start with those days as a child, when I was the one so anxious to see what Santa had brought me. Then suddenly, you find yourself a parent and get a front-row view as a dad. I remember driving one night in the Bothell area on our way home from somewhere when I saw the flashing red light on a tower at the Country Village Shopping Center. The kids were in the back seat and I pointed out the light, saying, “Look! It’s Rudolph’s nose! That means Santa is on his way. We better get home and get you to bed!”

What a great, great moment.

This year, even more than in previous years, there are ample ways for things to go south. Some families want to still get together regardless of the threat of COVID, while others are hunkering down, hopeful that playing it safe will keep them safe.

I think what a lot of people are missing is that every year, a great Christmas and a complete disaster are both there for our choosing. We can expect holiday perfection and be disappointed, or focus on just the good things that occur during this time of year.

I’m all about the latter. I’m doing everything in my power to cherish the festive lights, the great wine, the movies we watch again, the music that churns up the memories. Folks, it’s Christmas and if you need a little mental attitude adjustment, may I recommend listening to my holiday blend of music and fun this year, called Ho Ho Brother 20. It’s the 20th year I’ve put together one of these collections, and I feel it’s my best one yet. But then again, I say that every year.

Here’s to a healthy & happy holiday season. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put my imagination to work so I can spend a few minutes at that perfect Christmas I told you about earlier.

Yeah, that’s nice.

Tim Hunter

The Calm Before The Holiday Storm

My wife made the comment just this morning: “Can you believe it’s just a little over two weeks until Thanksgiving?”

After decades of going through this ritualistic season, you’d think we’d be better at it. But like clockwork, you’ll hear the same things, year after year:

  • “It’s too early to decorate for Christmas”
  • “I’m waiting until after Thanksgiving.”
  • “Your holiday party is that night, too?’
  • “Outside decorations are up. That’s all you’re getting this year.”
  • “When are we getting the tree?”
  • “Are we doing cards this year?”
  • “When’s the mail deadline?”
  • “I haven’t had time to shop!”
  • “I’m so stressed out!
  • “How am I ever going to get all those presents wrapped?”
  • “I can’t believe it’s over.”

Seriously, you’ve heard ’em all before. But I do have to say, in spite of our really busy personal schedules with work tossed in, I think I’m doing a decent job of actually enjoying the holiday season. I do have over-achieving as a goal, but somehow each year I pull it off and it’s just about time to fire up the engines again.

Here’s my collection of annual holiday “duties” I thrust upon myself. (because I know that one day, I’ll look back and remember when I used to do all this)

The N.A.C.C. Julebord–I began attending this when I married Victoria, the uber-Norwegian. It’s an annual lunchtime gala at the Seattle Golf Club that is decadent and extremely fun. Within a couple of years, the elderly emcee had to give up the microphone and I was called into service. I think this is my 6th Julebord (pronounced YULE-uh-BOARD). It’s actually a pretty cushy gig and let’s me get being a goofball out of my system. I do a brief monologue at the beginning which evolves into me doing a parody song about something. Then it’s just keeping the event moving along, with songs, door prizes and a tad bit of drinking.

SANTA CLAUS ARRIVAL AT BOTHELL’S COUNTRY VILLAGE SHOPPING CENTER–I believe I’m in my 14th year (at least) of hosting this event. My evening duties begin at 6pm when I stroll the village dressed up like a town crier, “Hear ye! Hear ye!” bell and all, announcing that Santa Claus arrives at 7pm.  Back when I started, Santa’s sleigh actually flew in on a wire, but eventually, the liability became too much. I’ll never forget the year that someone parked right in the flight path and I led the crowd in a “Tow that car!” chant until they eventually did. Longest 25 minutes of my life. The event means even more to me because we’re down to the final two Christmas’s where I’ll be doing this. The village has been sold and after the 2018 Santa arrival, the place will become history.

THE NORWEGIAN LADIES CHORUS OF SEATTLE HOLIDAY CONCERT–What I love most about this is I just have to show up. I usually go up in the rafters and videotape the concert and, much like country village, this could be a limited-time tradition. Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Ballard–where we were married–is going to be undergoing a massive renovation in the near future, which includes taking down the choir loft.

Those first three events happen in order on the first weekend of December–Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I also take on–

MY ANNUAL CHRISTMAS CD–The days of it actually being a CD are limited as well. In fact, only a select few will be burned this year, as the world moves towards digital music. This will be my 17th edition of “HO HO BROTHER”, which features fun, festive and funny Christmas songs, along with some original comedy bits from either my radio past, or new ones. If you’d be interested in getting this year’s collection, just let me know and I’ll put you on the naughty list.

MY ANNUAL CHRISTMAS MUSIC VIDEO–This is probably the most ambitious thing I do and I need to get going on it. I hooked up with a young singer named Alana Baxter some years ago and we have done a series of silly Christmas songs, complete with video. Now, since she has relocated to Hawaii, it’s made the task even more challenging. So what we did last year was to record this year’s song. I’ve got her voice track.  I’ll just have to round up some video and be creative and then we’ll have another one to add to the collection. Her song is also usually included with my Christmas CD collection. If you’d like to enjoy some of our previous works, here you go!

“It’s Silent Night”           “He Rides a Sleigh”            “I Won’t Hate You Very Much Tonight (It’s Christmas)”           “Where are You Christmas?”

Add to all that the holiday shopping, the annual parties, a Bothell Wine Walk, watching some favorite Christmas movies, getting out the Christmas cards (we’re STILL doing that) and everything else that crops up and yes, we are heading into one, busy, festive season.

But as I said, there will come a time when I’ll be reflecting back on these days and all of this will be nothing more than my ghosts of Christmas past.

So, I’m just going to enjoy the heck out of them while it’s all a part of my present.

Ho, friggin’, Ho!

Tim Hunter