News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Mike Lunsford

December 14, 2008

The Off Season: There really was a ‘Christmas Story’ in July … in Cleveland

The stiff northwest wind of the past few days and the jagged shark teeth of the icicles hanging along my barn roof’s eaves have put me in the mood for Christmas tonight as I sit down to clack out this piece. There is a cold-eyed crescent hanging in the southern sky; it’s a moon that’s behaving as only the moon can in December.

Our Christmas tree — a once-rooted Black Hills spruce that I bought at my favorite hardware store — has been colorfully decorated, as has our mantelpiece and the tops of our bookcases. The straw wreath that annually hangs on my office door is in place, a row of goofy-looking wooden gingerbread men glued in its circle. Although the winter has barged in on several unplanted potted mums that sit near a back fence — they are certainly once or twice too often frozen to survive in the ground now — and I still have a few fall chores to finish before the big winter freezes, I feel comfortable in saying that Christmas is just around the corner.

Yet, for all the lights and canned holiday tunes and Salvation Army bell-ringing I’m encountering, I can’t help but think that for me, the Christmas season arrived a little earlier than last week. I think it came in July … in Cleveland.

As we were constantly reminded during the political campaigns this fall, Americans live in a divided, polarized country, but the battle lines have been drawn on yet another front, and make no mistake about it, it’s a serious one: While some of us are “It’s a Wonderful Life” people, and others are “Christmas Vacation” fans, a few still admire “A Miracle on 34th Street.” My wife and I? Well, we have fond memories of “The Lemon Drop Kid,” even the stiffly animated Burl Ives’ version of “Frosty the Snowman.” But while my clan has great respect for Frank Capra and Chevy Chase, and still loves little Natalie Wood and a “Silver Bells” — singing Bob Hope, we’re for all intents and purposes “A Christmas Story” family.

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Mike Lunsford
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