Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Len's Lens Christmas issue

I've been sick -- a bit of a chest thing where it was painful to breathe -- but with the help of friend wife and Breathe Easy tea and a lot of bed rest, I'm back.

There was an interesting cartoon in The New York Times Week in Review. It showed a woman at bar talking to Santa Claus and the Thanksgiving turkey was saying that the jolly old elf wasn't letting him have his turn at the girl.

Well, what else is new. Advertisers have been pitching holiday gifts since before Columbus Day.

There used to be a time when everything was closed on two days: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Well, that's gone for Thanksgiving. In addition to the fight between Target and Wal Mart and Kohl's over who opens first Friday (one of them opens at 4 a.m.), Comp USA is having a sale starting at 9 p.m. Wednesday. It's nuts, but since the economy is in the dumper and you haven't sold your Christmas stuff between Columbus Day and now, I guess you want a second chance before tossing everything into the bargain bin.

Boy have things changed since I was in retailing. When I was in school in the 1960s, I worked for a store called Kennedy's of New England. I don't think it had anything to do with that family, but it was an upscale clothing store. I worked there from September until after Christmas. There were these really ugly sweaters, a sickly dark Army green with grey leather patches on the front and the elbows. They sold for $35 when a good dress shirt went for $5. They just were gathering dust, and I mentioned it to my boss. He said to throw them into a drawer and remind him of them near Thanksgiving. I did, and he told me to mark them up to $50 and put them out on the first Monday in December. I thought he was nuts. He wasn't. They were gone before the end of the week. When I asked him how he knew, he said you could sell anything at Christmas time.

To paraphrase Arlo, I didn't come to talk to you about sales, I came to talk about Christmas.

I'm with those who say it should be called Christmas, not "the holidays."

As an observant Orthodox Jew, I'm here to tell you that it's not my holidays. Hanukkah has nothing to do with Christmas and with gift-giving. The only reason Jews give gifts on Hanukkah is so the kids won't whine that their Christian friends are getting gifts and they're not. Sure, there's Hanukkah gelt, a little money, but nothing like the raft of gifts given for Christmas.

This year, the timing is not even close. Hanukkah is over weeks before Christmas and even if one believes one should give gifts for Hanukkah, as many Jews do, the holiday is over nearly two weeks before Christmas. It's not my holiday.

This is America, a Christian nation, as we have been repeatedly told. In that case, Christians should be able to celebrate their holiday in peace without worrying about upsetting me. I'm not upset by their having their holidays. You want to decorate the light poles, fine. You want to put up a Christmas tree on the town green, fine, as long as you don't say we can't put up a Hanukkah menorah. In New Haven, it's not a problem because the Green is privately owned and you can do anything you want as long as the Green committee approves.

I'm upset when you say we have to say your prayers in public schools. I'm upset when you say we have to say your prayers at public functions. I'm upset when the idiots who program radio stations play nothing but Christmas carols on EACH AND EVERY station on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There are stations that play really far out rock each day and on Christmas, they play the audio equivalent of the Yule log. That I'm upset about, but not calling Christmas Christmas.

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We got a fund-raising mailing from Mitt Romney today (Nov. 21, 2007). It was a puzzlement at first. We are hardly registered Republicans and those who analyze households could figure out there was no way we would give money to Romney.

But then it came clear. It trumpeted Romney as being the only Republican who would do anything about all those horrible people from other countries who sneaked into the U.S. and were ruining our economy. Romney told how, as governor of Massachusetts, he "deputized" (quotes his) the state police to enforce federal immigration laws already on the books. That means no "sanctuary cities" (again quotes are his.)

Aha!! It became clear. New Haven is a sanctuary city and he's trolling those who are unhappy about that fact to support him. That's what ol' Mitt was up to.

Well, as I toss his nasty note into the trash, I can say "no sale" to Mitt. It's not that I'm thrilled about having millions of people in the country illegally, I recognize the fact they are here. I don't like the fact that New Haven's mayor is recruiting illegals to come to New Haven for whatever reason, but I'm not going to buy into Romney's Draconian plan to make it hard for the illegals to improve themselves. He also doesn't say what he would do with the illegals who are already here. Maybe he feels that by making life so hard for them that they'll leave. Rich-guy Romney may not realize it but that's not going to work because there is no way that Romney could legally make their lives worse than it was in the nations they left.

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Three cheers for Mike Lowell and the Boston Red Sox. Lowell left a lot of money and the fourth year of a contract on the table to re-sign with the Sox for three more years. I'm thrilled. Lowell defines class in the way he plays, the leadership role he takes in the clubhouse and in the community and now in electing to stay with the Sox instead of a four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies. He wanted to stay with an outfit that would at least contest for the championship and he liked playing in Boston. And three cheers for the Sox management. They re-signed pitcher Curt Schilling and Lowell, two guys who are along in years (in baseball years, anyway), choosing to go with class and experience rather than just youth. A win-win for the Sox, the players and the fans.

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To all who will read this, a very happy Thanksgiving.

Until next time...

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