Author’s program note. There are about forty days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, depending on just when the first holiday falls… and for millions these can be the most painful days of the year, a time of acute loneliness, isolation, and despair. All you want to do is put on a brave face… and get through them as quickly as possible, wounded and sore just as little as possible.
But this year I want you to have the best holidays you’ve had in years, maybe decades… I want you to get more, far more, from them, enjoy yourself and spread the maximum joy to the maximum number. In other words, I want you to be the impresario of happiness, expecting nothing in return, just the real point of the season: giving joy to the world.
Let’s start with music… One of the things that depresses folks at the holidays is the endless renditions of unbearably chipper, even nauseating holiday ditties, you know, of the “Frosty the Snowman” variety. So much sugar and fructose is sure to set your teeth on edge. Luckily you can fight back, at least at home by identifying some non-holiday songs you like and filling your abode with loveliness, just the things to please you.
In this connection, I selected “The Shadow Waltz” from “Gold Diggers of 1933.” It’s a pre-code Warner Bros. musical film directed by Mervyn LeRoy with songs by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics), staged and choreographed by Busby Berkeley. It’s the perfect film, with the perfect music to take you out of your sad state and self-pitying condition and set you… dancing. In an instant your feet will start an insistent tapping that means you must get up and whirl a pillow around the room.
“In the Winter let me bring the Spring to you/Let me feel that I mean everything to you/ Love’s old song will be new/ In the shadows when I come and sing to you.”
One after another, Hollywood’s most popular male vocalists (Dick Powell, Bing Crosby, Rudy Vallee) had a go at this haunting tune and its lilting message,
“Let me linger long/Let me live my song.”
Go now to any search engine and see which version you prefer… they’re all wonderful.
Now let’s get started crafting the holidays you want and which will make you as happy as possible.
1) Plan yourself “Merrie Little Holidays”.
Each of us needs a highly personal quantity of the holidays; this can range from 24-hour-a- day immersion, or just a little bit Christmas morning. You need to determine just how much you need… and arrange matters accordingly. Remember, there is no “right” answer, no “right” amount. It all depends on you. Thus, honesty is essential.
Far too many people arrange their holidays according to what others want and expect from them. But here you’re arranging for the precise amount that is perfect for — you!
2) To make sure you get the proportions just right, write down what you want in priority order and what you don’t. Don’t fib… and don’t consider any one’s wishes but your own. This in itself will make these holidays distinctive. And if somebody you know doesn’t like your choices, advise them to go to any search engine and find George Gershwin’s grand tune “Who Cares?” (lyrics by Ira Gershwin) from the 1931 musical “Of Thee I Sing”.
Offer them one of your least favorite bon-bons; you know, the one you sampled and put back in the box. Serves ’em right. I think you’re catching the right spirit now… Now kick up your heels and sing out…
“Who cares?/ So long as I care for you and you care for me”. Oh, mama! The holidays will never be the same. And isn’t that the idea?
3) Plan how many decorations you want. Remember, this is entirely your call. You decide whether you want a huge display in and out or just one little candle in the window. Again, write down what you want… and what you don’t. Feels good doesn’t it? Yeah, I thought you’d like this new approach to the holidays.
Then do what you’ve done every year of your life; dig into the attic, basement and closets to review your decorations. But with a brand-new eye and purpose this year. You are going to use only what YOU want. Remember, these are YOUR holidays… and the decor must suit but a single person. And if others don’t like it? Revert to George and Ira Gershwin above. “Who cares?”
4) Now food. This is crucial. We all have our holiday favorites, of course; mine are too numerous to mention. But the holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without them. Again, it’s time for a list. What “must” you have? What don’t you want under any circumstances. And, yes, complete and total honesty is required. (Admit it, Aunt Annie’s dishes you so extravagantly praised in years past made you sick to your stomach. Now you don’t have to eat them, like them, or praise them. Delicious.)
Having written your list and prioritized what you want, it’s time for The Search. Of course this must be done online. Search under such categories as “comfort food”, “comfort food baskets” and the actual name of particular comfort foods you loved but are not available in your neighborhood now.
In my case, one of my several once loved (and never forgotten) special foods was Jay’s Potato Chips. 55 years ago and more, my darling grammie used to give them to me every afternoon when my paper route ended in her kitchen. Now you may not regard these beloved chips as holiday fare… but I most assuredly do; along with a bundle of others. You can bet that I’ll get a gift basket of them — for myself of course — long before the holidays are over. Will I share it? Don’t bet the ranch.
Now choose… alone, a little less alone, not at all alone.
It’s time to consider your holiday people options. Do you want a lot, some, or none at all? Remember it’s your choice. Use the tango principle for making it. And thus I give you one of the greatest tangos ever written: “Orchids in the Moonlight”, written for the 1933 film “Flying Down To Rio”. I like Rudy Vallee’s seductive version best.
What to wear… or dispense with. Always your choice.
You may think that you’ve been alone in past years because you’re too old, but you’re wrong. Any age is the right age if you have the right attitude and are willing to pull out all the stops. “Orchids in the Moonlight” will help.
To ignite its smouldering passion, what you need is a broad red ribbon, tied on like the contestants in the “Miss America” pageant. You’ll also need a red, red rose (clenched in your teeth in the approved manner) and you’ll need that all-important melody, the melody Rudy Vallee renders so well. One more thing: for the ultimate look add a Santa cap. It’s such a chic, unutterably alluring chapeau. Can you really afford to go without it?
Now, dance alone or dance with any number of visitors who accept your invitation. Be sure to keep some extra ribbon on hand, and some extra roses, too. Some people, imagine, will come unprepared. Overlook such faux pas, the better to achieve the greater good.
“When orchids bloom in the moonlight/And lovers vow to be true I still can dream in the moonlight/Of one dear night that we knew.”
Lovely, isn’t it? Seductive… enchanting. So YOU!
And now it’s time for the grand finale, compliments of one of the Great Republic’s most scandalous performers, Josephine Baker. In 1927 she had a hit on her hands, a hit entitled “Then I’ll Be Happy.” You’ll be happy, too, if you rethink your entire approach to the holidays; indeed, your entire approach to life. Don’t wait for miracles to occur… make your own miracles and share them with folks less inventive than you are. Here’s how this one works: Give these lyrics to each person who visits you and make them serenade you with them before they leave:
“I wanna go where you go do what you do/Love when you love then I’ll be happy I wanna sigh when you sigh cry when you cry/ Smile when you smile then I’ll be happy.”
Oh, just one more thing…
… the doorbell just rang. There was a delivery gal with a look of profound respect in her eyes and the loveliest holiday bouquet. “Dr. Lant,” she said, “It’s from the President, President Obama, sir.” And she all but saluted. Now you and I know who ordered the flowers and wrote such a fulsome greeting on the card… but I assure you if he weren’t so busy just now he would have sent this colorful and respectful ensemble himself.
… I wonder if he likes to tango…
About the Author
Now with near seven decades of a successful writing career, Dr. Lant is, he likes to say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age
5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs;
worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of
his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has
delighted in the several awards that followed.
To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing
course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything
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