Question time: what was YOUR favorite Christmas present of all time, and why?

The Lovely and Talented Judith and I engaged in one of our Christmas traditions last night: decorating our tree while imbibing eggnog and watching “The Muppets Christmas Carol” playing in the background.

God save my little broken body.

I’m not entirely sure how or why the Muppets became part of our pre-Christmas rituals, but there you have it. It’s a charming, quirky flick that just kind of fell into place in our lives.

It’s certainly fitting, given that our Christmas ornaments fall into roughly four categories: Cartoon characters, Cats, Games and Sports Teams (specifically, Judith’s Packers and my Steelers). Hallmark used to make charming NFL ornaments. Not sure why they stopped, but the mice riding the Packers football is one of my favorites.

Planes and spaceships and general geeky trinkets make up a small fifth category of ornaments. Another holiday tradition is overly annoying Judith with the overly loud Star Trek Shuttlecraft Galileo talking ornament.

“Shuttlecraft to Enterprise! Shuttlecraft to Enterprise! Spock here! Happy Holidays! Live long, and prosper.”

What my poor wifey has to put up with…

Surprisingly, I never really associate “Wings Over America” with the holidays, even though it is that one magnificent item we all seem to have: the hallowed Favorite Christmas Present of All Time.

I still vividly remember receiving the triple album, back when triple albums were HUGE- both literally and figuratively.

It was 1976, I was 14, and “That ’70s Show” was still blessedly 25 years off.

Music had grabbed ahold of my soul with a strangling passion. Even though it was still a few years before I got into the “cool” bands, and my taste in music was pretty awful, I’ll still defend to the death “Wings Over America,” in much the same way that I’ll defend Abba, ELO and the Battersea Power Station. Sometimes Good is just Good, even if it’s not “cool.”

Yet, Wings WAS cool, back in the day, and my parents gave me this huge, sprawling triple album that was the size of a Ford Maverick. Oh, no, the double CD re-release of a few years back may hold the technical edge, being nick- and scratch-free. But can it yield the same deadly head wounds in hand-to-hand combat that a triple album, when properly wielded, can? I think not.

In my 14-year old mind, this magnificent record was a resounding masterpiece: it not only SOUNDED great, but it LOOKED great! Holding it in my hands, I could hardly believe I had it! That my parents bought it for me made me feel just a little bit more grown-up than I had the day before. It was everything you could ask for in a present: a seeming unattainable package placed right in your hands, parental approval of your main passion, plus cool, nifty-keen, super-duper pull-out POSTERS!

Above every other present I’ve ever been given, “Wings Over America” stands as the one I remember.

I should really put it on again.

Of course, that might spoil the memory.

We’ll see how I feel after iTunes churns through a few more “cool” bands.

Anyway, I’m in a kind of Cocteau Twins mood, at the moment.

I wonder if they ever did anything with the Muppets…or Christmas…or both…?

Peas, out,

John

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