Getting in the spirit and other thoughts

by Ogi Overman

Getting in the spirit and other thoughts

Random thoughts the week before Christmas:

• Despite the economic downturn, I can’t help but feel a renewed sense of optimism lately. Perhaps it’s irrational and perhaps it’s because I haven’t yet been directly affected by the sorry economy, but this Christmas seems a bit brighter for me. Of course, all that’s tempered by the fact that millions of us are hurting, but, as Merle Haggard might say, “If we can make it through December” — or in this case, January — things may start to improve. Sadly for many, though, it may be January 2010.

• For my Christmas column a few years back I ruminated on the notion of the “idealized Christmas.” My theory was, and is, that if one compares Christmas present with that of his childhood — when Santa had left that Schwinn bike and football uniform and model train and Erector set and BB gun under the tree; when both your parents were young and vibrant; when your only worries were that school was going to start back in a week — you can’t possibly win. So, my theory was that while it’s okay to cherish those memories, to dwell on them is disastrous for the morale. The key is to be keenly aware of the moment and be grateful for each and every tiny blessing, even the ones that are not so obvious and especially the ones we take for granted. • Normally my ear for phonetics is excellent and my ability to spell as good as it gets. So why is it a full week later and I still can neither pronounce nor come close to spelling the soon-to-be ex-governor of Illinois? Perhaps the fact that he didn’t have the decency to be a Republican has created a mental block. Or maybe it’s that he is so far below your typical corrupt politico — i.e. gutter-dwelling slime — that I can’t bring myself to either write or say aloud his name. I can’t even call him a scumbag, because that would be demeaning to scumbags. I mean, this guy is so far down the food chain he aspires to one day attain scumbagness. • I have a new hero. Whoever the Iraqi guy who threw his shoes at Duh is, they ought to sculpt a statue in his likeness in what’s left of downtown Baghdad. Having been responsible for the deaths of a quarter-million of his countrymen, I can understand why the guy was a tad peeved at Bush, especially as he was spinning it as having done the nation a huge favor by “liberating” them. The man has no soul, no brain, no clue.

• Did you catch McCain on “Face The Nation” Sunday? It was quick and it was subtle, but it was there — McCain seemed toleave the door open for some form of prosecution for Rummy, Duh andDeadeye for their roles in Abu Ghraib. Schieffer didn’t follow it up,but when McCain said it was not his call as to whether members of theBush administration were culpable, that was sufficiently ambiguous tosend the message that he wouldn’t oppose it. Now if only Obama willsend that same message…. • This happens almost every year:I’ll feel I’m getting in the Christmas spirit early, the week beforeThanksgiving or thereabouts, but then it will fade. But invariably,something will spark the return of that magical feeling just in time.Sometimes it’s shopping, sometimes it’s a spiritual nudge, sometimesit’s a carol, sometimes it’s Charlie Brown. This year it was aback-to-back combination of things. Last Friday’s huge full moon, thelargest and brightest, I found out the next day, in 15 years set thestage, followed by Saturday’s network showing of It’s A Wonderful Life. Evenwithout the gorgeous lunar show, if my favorite movie of all timedoesn’t do the trick, there’s no hope. But, as always, George Baileyand Clarence and Burt and Ernie and Zuzu’s petals and “Buffalo Gals”and “In the grand scheme of things you’re nothing but a scurvy littlespider” came through for me.

• A trick I’ve been using since my 30s is to save all my change anddollar bills and then cash them in at Christmas. Not an original idea,I know, but it does wonders. You don’t miss it and it’s likefound money when you need it most. Invariably I’ll come up with $400 to$500, which means everybody on my list will at least get something. •Another surefire aid to getting in the spirit is to imagine just for amoment that it happened just the way it was described in the Bible.Sure, you have to suspend disbelief, but what if, just what if? What ifthe manger and the wise men and the star of the east and the shepherdsand all that happened just like it’s written? Yeah, I know, astronomershave calculated that Jesus was actually born June 17, 2 BC, but forgetthat for a moment. The date is arbitrary, anyway. Just give it somethought. Regardless, peace on Earth and goodwill toward men ain’t a bad way to go about things.

Ogi may be reached at ogiman100@ and seen on “Triad Today” hosted by Jim Longworth on ABC 45 at 6:30 a.m. Fridays and on WMYV 48 at 10 p.m. Sundays.