Its highest values should come as no surprise. Then off to a sendoff of U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton.
I stayed up way too late last night. How could I not? I was out in the desert. It was a cold but crystal clear night and the stars were painted on the sky. The moon was dazzlingly nearby. I swam at about midnight in my wonderful pool. As I kicked up the water, steam billowed out of it. The moon shot moonbeams into the mist through the palm fronds. All around me, our hundreds of Christmas lights shone green, blue, red, orange, yellow into the steam. It was as if there were a swimming pool on a Scottish moor but lined with Christmas lights.
As I swam, I could see meinen wifey wandering around inside the house. It was a perfect sight.
However, this morning, I was tired and in an embarrassingly bad mood. When my wife pointed it out to me, I apologized at once. That’s a simple rule of a marriage: when you’re acting like a jerk, stop it and apologize. Schnell.
We went to a glorious 12-step meeting and really felt lifted up by it. Then, we had lunch outdoors at Pacifica in Palm Desert, and then shopped at Brooks Brothers and noted with pain how fat I am. Then we headed home where I took a long nap listening to Mozart’s Requiem and Laudate Dominum, on my ancient Sony headphones.
Outside, the Christmas lights flickered. My fire roared in my fireplace — and I needed it, it’s cold as can be here — and the lights on my mantel blinked. In the center of the mantel is a photo of my late Pointer, Brigid.
My wife and I celebrate Christmas big time. I am sure we have more decorations than anyone within miles of here has.
On a superficial level, it’s because the lights and tree and fire are festive. That’s innate. Man loves colored lights and fires. When I was a child in Maryland, the Gentiles had festive lights and we Jews had zilch. Forget that. That’s the past. Back in 1957, I saw no reason why the Gentiles should have all of the fun and I still don’t. Having those lights and a tree — that’s what I always wanted. To have colored lights and to be a part of the dominant culture.
But I love Christmas for much more basic reasons. The New Testament is totally different from the Old Testament. It’s not about battles or migrations or plagues as the Old Testament largely is. The Old Testament is about the emergence of a people of faith in a God who favored that people. It also has magnificent codes of conduct for us humans, but also some extremely savage codes of conduct.
The New Testament is about man reforming himself and trying to get control of his barbarous, cruel nature. There are no battles or plagues. There is only real violence against one man. And there is only one real message: try to arrange your relations with your fellow man based on love and empathy rather than hate or envy or sadism.
We used to say in law school that the development of capitalism was because the law allowed a change from status to contract. That is, you were no longer stuck where you were born. You could contract to do certain things that brought you out of your status and raised you up to a higher status.
The New Testament is about the change from status to contract. You can be saved if you simply make a contract to believe in God and (some add) if you act right. It has nothing to do with how you were born or into what tribe.
This is a revolutionary, stupendous freeing of the human spirit. This is why Christmas is such a joyous time for people, whether Jews or Christians, or anyone else, who wants to believe that we humans can be forgiven and go on to lead lives of triumph no matter what has happened in our past.
That, and not shopping at all, not the retail numbers, is why Christmas is such a great time.
Just for example, I got a text from a pal this morning who is in financial extremis and in many other ways as well. “Help,” she said, “I feel as if I am drowning and my whole life has been ruined.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?