The Christmas season always seems to be broken into three segments. There are the moments that bring a smile, there is the overload of commercialism and, thankfully, the true spirit of this time of year.
I think the following observations capture each of those three:
º "The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn't for any religious reasons. They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin." -- Jay Leno.
The sad thing is he was only half-kidding.
º "I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark." -- Dick Gregory.
The 81-year-old Gregory, a native of St. Louis, has made a career of what he terms "observational comedy."
º "Santa is very jolly because he knows where all the bad girls live." -- Dennis Miller.
I know, I know. This is not the kind of comment that captures the real spirit of the season, but it is still hilarious.
º "There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmas time. Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them." -- P.J. O'Rourke.
I know of at least one guy who does not drink that stuff.
º "The Christmas season has come to mean the period when the public plays Santa Claus to the merchants." -- John Andrew Holmes.
And by "public" that actually means my wife.
º "Three phrases that sum up Christmas are: Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, and Batteries not Included."-- Anonymous.
A fourth could be added to that list: "No Interest (Payments) for Six Months."
º "Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food and beer ... Who'd have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?" -- Bill Watterson, creator of "Calvin & Hobbes."
Which begs the question of whether or not 99 percent of the Christmas specials we see each year were designed to promote goodwill and peace on Earth -- or simply to sell another bag of Doritos.
The true spirit
º "Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves." -- Eric Sevareid.
Sevareid, the late CBS newsman who died in 1992, always had a way with words. He was always regarded as a keen observer of human nature.
º Ironically, the finest -- and possibly most memorable -- observation of the Christmas season may have been provided by famed composer Irving Berlin. The opening to his famous "White Christmas" arguably generates the most familiar holiday images of any verse.
I‘m dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know,
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
Simply reading those words brings thoughts of children playing in the snow, the warm glow from a fireplace, a brightly lit Christmas tree -- and no interest payments for six months.