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Give the Devil His Due: Some of My Favorite Halloween Horror Films


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

It is All Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween. Judy and Minnie are out at a friends house while I sit with the porch light and other front lights out watching American Horror Story while Izzy and Pierre bark at anyone who dares ring the doorbell, so far four or five. But I cannot help but share some of my favorite horror movies.

love-at-first-bite

“Without me, Transylvania will be as exciting as Bucharest… on a Monday night.” Count Dracula (George Hamilton) on being banished from his castle by Romanian Communists in Love at First Bite

Yes it is Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve and time for me to share my favorite Halloween horror films with you. Horror movies can be scary, but they can also be funny and even kind of klitschy. I think that is why they have such an enduring fascination to so many people, including me. I love horror, suspense, science fiction and the paranormal. They tend to be less scary than driving to work on the local interstate highways in the Hampton Roads area or going to a Mall or Wal-Mart.

Horror films have always fascinated me, especially the ones that are not simply built around a bunch of slashing and mindless killing and brutality.

Some of the films I like are more dramatic and suspenseful while others are more on the funny side of the horror genre. Not that there is anything wrong with that. There are hundreds of not thousands of horror films out there and many are variations on a theme and many are so bad I will not watch them. That being said there are some that I cannot miss.

drac_1513745c

I love the whole vampire and Dracula genre. The Bela Lugosi Dracula was interesting but the klitchshy Hammer Dracula films with Christopher Lee were always my favorites. It was always fun for me to watch how some idiot managed to find a way to spill some blood on Dracula’s ashes and re-animate the Prince of Darkness. Of course the fact that Lee’s Dracula was always going after some really good looking girl made the series predicable and enjoyable.

600full-the-vampire-lovers-screenshot

The female versions of the Dracula films produced by Hammer Productions were even more enjoyable for a teen age boy. Ingrid Pitt played a great Carmilla Karnstein, a seductive female vampire who preyed on great looking women in The Vampire Lovers.  In the vampire genre Quentin Tarintino’s Dusk ‘Til Dawn was pretty good and Wesley Snipes Blade series was enjoyable too.

salems-lot-1979-soul

I think that the horror film that still gives me the creeps is another vampire film, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. I saw it the first time while visiting my wife’s cousin who lived in the Netherlands back in 1985. It was on Dutch television in English and subtitled in Dutch. To me it is the ultimate in horror, I have a copy but haven’t watched it in years. It scares the bejesus out of me.

images-59

Now I admit these are not the best Dracula movies, but they are entertaining. I liked Interview with a Vampire, Dracula(1979) starring Frank Langella, Sir Lawrence Olivier and Donald Pleasance, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) starring Gary Oldham and Winona Ryder were all actually better films.  Other films in the vampire genre that I like included Fright Nightand The Lost Boys.

600full-dracula--dead-and-loving-it-screenshot

There were parodies as well, my favorites being Love at First Bitestarring George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin, Dick Shawn and Arte Johnson, Mel Brooks’ Dracula Dead and Loving it starring Leslie Nielsen and Blackula, a blacksploitation parody starring William Marshall.

images-60

Frankenstein was okay but I love Mel Brooks’ parody Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Terri Garr and Peter Boyle.

William Friedkin_The Exorcist_1973

Then there are the Satanic or Demonic possession and oppression films based on actual events. There is the classic The Exorcist and more recently The Conjuring. Both kept me on the edge of my seat and were scarier at home than they were in the theater. Another film which I like but which might better fit into the Science Fiction or loosely based on real events category is The Mothman Prophecies. 

Shaun-and-bat-shaun-of-the-dead-73362_800_527

Zombie films have never been that interesting to me but the original Night of the Living Dead is a classic that I will watch and I did enjoy the parody Shaun of the Dead starring Simon Pegg, and Zombieland starring Woody Harrelson.

army-of-darkness

In a different class is the cult classic Army of Darkness a sequel to the Evil Dead films.  In this Bruce Campbell plays a hardware store employee who gets transported through time to a medieval castle being attacked by a ghoulish army. It really is a classic full of great one liners and action. I think one of my favorite lines is where Campbell’s character “Ash” answers the leader of the dead army when he is asked who he is: “Well hello Mister Fancypants. Well, I’ve got news for you pal, you ain’t leadin’ but two things, right now: Jack and shit… and Jack left town. 

Halloween2

When I was in junior high school, high school and college a lot of different horror films came out which became cult classics which spawned sequel after sequel. There was the original Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I never got into the most of the sequels because none of them were as good as the originals.

1bodysnatchers

Another film that I found positively frightening was Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Donald Sutherland. It was a remake of an earlier film but the whole concept of falling asleep and being replaced with a pod person freaked me out.

Like I said at the beginning of the article, there are thousands of horror films out there. I could go on and mention more but to do so would be to repeat variations on similar themes or to stretch the genre to include various murder mysteries with horror or demonic elements such as Silence of the Lambs, The Shining, or films which are more appropriately classed as Science Fiction such as Alien.

Ghostbusters

In a totally different category are the Ghostbusters comedies, and Scrooged. Both comedies with classic horror twists. I love those movies. Then there is Mel Brooks classic parody of the original Frankenstein using the original  Young Frankenstein with Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Terri Garr, Marty Feldman, and Gene Hackman.

So as Halloween winds down and the trick or treaters go home, while you are snuggled in your bed with your love, turn on the television and find something scary to watch. After all, tomorrow is Friday, but not the 13th.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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A Thought for Christmas Eve: It’s Not too Late…

 

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Just a quick thought from one of my favorite Christmas movies for Christmas Eve.

Those of you who know me personally, or follow my writings here know how much I struggle with faith, as well as how much Christmas means to me. It is the one time of year that I tend to believe again.

The thought is from the classic comedy Scrooged starring Bill Murray. I think that in the midst of all the turmoil and hate that it somehow may be the best that we might be able to do.

“It’s Christmas Eve! It’s… it’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we… we… we smile a little easier, we… w-w-we… we… we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!”

Have the best Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate as you can.

Peace,

Padre Steve

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Padre Steve’s Favorite Halloween Horror

love-at-first-bite

“Without me, Transylvania will be as exciting as Bucharest… on a Monday night.” Count Dracula (George Hamilton) on being banished from his castle by Romanian Communists in Love at First Bite

Yes it is Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve and time for me to share my favorite Halloween horror films with you. Horror movies can be scary, but they can also be funny and even kind of klitschy. I think that is why they have such an enduring fascination to so many people, including me. I love horror, suspense, science fiction and the paranormal. They tend to be less scary than driving to work on the local interstate highways in the Hampton Roads area or going to a Mall or Wal-Mart.

Horror films have always fascinated me, especially the ones that are not simply built around a bunch of slashing and mindless killing and brutality.

Some of the films I like are more dramatic and suspenseful while others are more on the funny side of the horror genre. Not that there is anything wrong with that. There are hundreds of not thousands of horror films out there and many are variations on a theme and many are so bad I will not watch them. That being said there are some that I cannot miss.

drac_1513745c

I love the whole vampire and Dracula genre. The Bela Lugosi Dracula was interesting but the klitchshy Hammer Dracula films with Christopher Lee were always my favorites. It was always fun for me to watch how some idiot managed to find a way to spill some blood on Dracula’s ashes and re-animate the Prince of Darkness. Of course the fact that Lee’s Dracula was always going after some really good looking girl made the series predicable and enjoyable.

600full-the-vampire-lovers-screenshot

The female versions of the Dracula films produced by Hammer Productions were even more enjoyable for a teen age boy. Ingrid Pitt played a great Carmilla Karnstein, a seductive female vampire who preyed on great looking women in The Vampire Lovers.  In the vampire genre Quentin Tarintino’s Dusk ‘Til Dawn was pretty good and Wesley Snipes Blade series was enjoyable too.

salems-lot-1979-soul

I think that the horror film that still gives me the creeps is another vampire film, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. I saw it the first time while visiting my wife’s cousin who lived in the Netherlands back in 1985. It was on Dutch television in English and subtitled in Dutch.

images-59

Now I admit these are not the best Dracula movies, but they are entertaining. I liked Interview with a Vampire, Dracula (1979) starring Frank Langella, Sir Lawrence Olivier and Donald Pleasance, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) starring Gary Oldham and Winona Ryder were all actually better films.  Other films in the vampire genre that I like included Fright Night and The Lost Boys.

600full-dracula--dead-and-loving-it-screenshot

There were parodies as well, my favorites being Love at First Bite starring George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin, Dick Shawn and Arte Johnson, Mel Brooks’ Dracula Dead and Loving it starring Leslie Nielsen and Blackula, a blacksploitation parody starring William Marshall.

images-60

Frankenstein was okay but I love Mel Brooks’ parody Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Terri Garr and Peter Boyle.

William Friedkin_The Exorcist_1973

Then there are the Satanic or Demonic possession and oppression films based on actual events. There is the classic The Exorcist and more recently The Conjuring. Both kept me on the edge of my seat and were scarier at home than they were in the theater. Another film which I like but which might better fit into the Science Fiction or loosely based on real events category is The Mothman Prophecies. 

Shaun-and-bat-shaun-of-the-dead-73362_800_527

Zombie films have never been that interesting to me but the original Night of the Living Dead is a classic that I will watch and I did enjoy the parody Shaun of the Dead starring Simon Pegg.

army-of-darkness

In a different class is the cult classic Army of Darkness a sequel to the Evil Dead films.  In this Bruce Campbell plays a hardware store employee who gets transported through time to a medieval castle being attacked by a ghoulish army. It really is a classic full of great one liners and action. I think one of my favorite lines is where Campbell’s character “Ash” answers the leader of the dead army when he is asked who he is: “Well hello Mister Fancypants. Well, I’ve got news for you pal, you ain’t leadin’ but two things, right now: Jack and shit… and Jack left town.”

Halloween2

When I was in junior high school, high school and college a lot of different horror films came out which became cult classics which spawned sequel after sequel. There was the original Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I never got into the sequels because none of them were as good as the originals.

1bodysnatchers

Another film that I found positively frightening was Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Donald Sutherland. It was a remake of an earlier film but the whole concept of falling asleep and being replaced with a pod person freaked me out.

Like I said at the beginning of the article, there are thousands of horror films out there. I could go on and mention more but to do so would be to repeat variations on similar themes or to stretch the genre to include various murder mysteries with horror or demonic elements such as Silence of the Lambs or films which are more appropriately classed as Science Fiction such as Alien.

Ghostbusters

In a totally different category are the Ghostbusters comedies and Scrooged. Both comedies with classic horror twists. I love those movies.

So as Halloween winds down and the trick or treaters go home, while you are snuggled in your bed with your love, turn on the television and find something scary to watch. After all, tomorrow is Friday.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Merry Christmas Eve!

Scrooged (1988) 3

“It’s Christmas Eve! It’s… it’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we… we… we smile a little easier, we… w-w-we… we… we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!” Frank Cross (Bill Murray) in Scrooged

This evening is Christmas Eve and I have noticed today, almost everywhere I have been that people have been just a bit nicer than usual. Well, I take that back, except for the old bat in the Gold Lexus that cut me off for a parking spot at the grocery store, but even so most people seem to be just a bit friendlier than most days of the year.

Today after getting a few things that we needed for Christmas day Judy and I went out and had a beer with some of our friends at Gordon Biersch. Tonight we will meet another Chaplain and his wife for dinner before settling in for the night.

It is nice to be with each other and to have all that we need and to enjoy our two dogs, Molly and Minnie. Tomorrow we will unwrap, or let the dogs unwrap their gifts. Molly knows exactly what to do. She unwraps her presents every year. This will be Minnie’s first Christmas so it will be interesting to see her do her gifts. Since she is a Papillon I expect that she will have no problem figuring this ritual out.

So blessings to you as you celebrate this Christmas, no matter how you do it. I believe that Christmas is for everyone, that the joy, fellowship and love can be shared by anyone of good will.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Laughing All the Way: Padre Steve’s Favorite Christmas Films and TV Shows

christmas-vacation

Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny Kaye.”

This is the time of year that a lot of Christmas movies are shown on almost every television outlet known to humanity.  Of course there are many that are absolutely timeless such as Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and its derivatives and It’s a Wonderful Life.

There are also ones of various religious themes, usually involving the birth of Jesus, like no duh, it’s Christmas. Unfortunately most of these films as classic as they are bore me to tears.  Yes they have nice messages and tug at the heartstrings but without wanting to sound too much like Scrooge I get bored by them, frightfully bored.

I guess part of this is a generational thing.  The ones set in the 1930s and 1940s are from a different era, an era that I know from history books and family members but not something that is a part of my life.  It’s like the film The Bell’s of Saint Mary’s is about the Roman Catholic Church of a half century ago, not the one that I know or that exists now.  They are fictional and while touching are indelibly tied to their time.  The religious themed films tended often to be major productions of the Hollywood Gospel genre, not very faithful to Scripture or the teachings of the church, not that there is anything wrong with that.  But it is certain to me that Cecil B. De Mille did not write the 5th Gospel, or the 6th Book of Moses (You have to know your Luther Bible for that one) thus I have a hard time with films that use the nativity or for that matter the passion of Christ for a quick buck.

charlie-brown-christmas5

However, every year, there are several Christmas movies and television shows that I cannot live without seeing.  Of the television shows my all time favorite is A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  As a kid I had a deep affinity for both Charlie Brown and Linus. The frustration of Charlie Brown with the commercialization of Christmas was something that resonated in me at a young age and still does today. If you want to see this just look at my articles on Black Friday.  Likewise Linus’ reading of the Luke’s account of the Angel’s message to the shepherds always brings tears to my eyes.  There is something about the sensitivity of Linus to the actual Gospel message that resonates in my heart.

grinch-1

As for the Grinch, and I mean the television Grinch where Boris Karloff voiced the part of the Grinch not the Jim Carey movie version, it has always been a favorite of mine.  I find the plot of the Grinch to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville to be a masterful account of how the message of Christmas can touch even the smallest and coldest of hearts.  Of course I absolutely loved the Grinch’s dog “Max” a dog whose loyalty to the Grinch reminds me of my dog Molly.

As far as movies are concerned I watch Scrooged staring Bill Murray and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation staring Chevy Chase with almost a religious reverence every year.

Xmas-Scrg3

I relate to the main characters in both movies.  That’s not necessarily a compliment to me. Bill Murray’s Character in Scrooged pricks my cynical nature and there are times that I almost need to cover my eyes when in Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold kicks the decorative reindeer and sleigh across the lawn when he can’t get his house lights on.  His rants when his Christmas Tree goes up in flames and when his family tries to leave the house are so close to the way that I can act under the stress of the holidays that is scary.  Since Judy says this is the case I know that I am not imagining this.

trading-places

Three other films that get me are Home Alone and A Christmas Story and though it is not really a Christmas story Trading Places staring Dan Aykroyd whose Christmas season meltdown is at the center of a film about the greed of certain parts of the American financial sector.

These are what I grew up with and which were the films about Christmas as it takes place in the United States that I became an adult in that typify my era, not that of my grandparents.  I think that is why they are my favorites and not the classics of a bygone time.

festivus-card

Of course there is the Festivus episode of Seinfeld that is almost scary because of how close to home it hits. There are times that I think we only lacked the “feats of strength” and the Festivus Pole to complete the picture.  Sticking to Seinfeld I always feel a twinge of sympathy for George when makes up a fake charity called “The Human Fund: Money for People” to give to his co-workers at Kruger Industrial Smoothing. There are times that I am tempted, but thankfully never will do something similar.

X-Files-How-The-Ghosts-Stole-Christmas-6X06-the-x-files-7967511-852-480

Finally I like the X-Files Christmas episode How the Ghosts Stole Christmas where Ed Asner and Lilly Tomlin played ghosts in a haunted house that Agents Scully and Mulder get trapped in while investigating a case. When I go shopping anywhere this time of year I am quite fond of Agent Scully’s comment to Mulder: “Sorry. Checkout lines were worse than rush-hour on the 95. If I heard “Silent Night” one more time, I was gonna start taking hostages.” 

Okay, so these are not the classics of a bygone era, but they are my classics and I will enjoy Charlie Brown, Linus, the Grinch, Clark Griswold, Frank Cross, the Costanzas Agents Mudler and Scully and the rest of my warped favorites as I continue to rediscover the joy and hilarity of Christmas as we celebrate it in the United States. After all, to quote Clark Griswold “We’re all in this together.”

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Favorite Christmas Comedies

“It’s Christmas Eve! It’s… it’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we… we… we smile a little easier, we… w-w-we… we… we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!” Frank Cross (Bill Murray) in Scrooged

Why you shouldn’t miss Christmas: http://movieclips.com/PCaT4-scrooged-movie-marketing-with-terror/

I have a blast watching the more comical views of Christmas in America presented in great comedies. Now I like the more sentimental films like White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life and classics such the various renditions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but my favorites are the comedies.  Part of the reason for this is that I see myself in so many of them. I can’t say that these are in any particular order and some are only listed because they are set during Christmas versus actually being “Christmas” films but even so they make my list favorites. So sit back, click on a link or two and enjoy Padre Steve’s favorite Christmas films.

I think that my absolute favorite is Scrooged starring Bill Murray as a bitter and cynical television network President in a humorous take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol http://movieclips.com/ZTcn-scrooged-movie-a-christmas-miracle/ Bill Murray plays the part with aplomb and Judy says that I would like to be him and in some ways I can see that.

Not to be forgotten is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase who is the everyman of Christmas film and the Griswold’s the scarily typical American family at Christmas.  How can anyone forget some of the trouble that he gets himself into in trying to do the right thing for his family?  I think one of the great scenes in the film is Clark’s attempt to light the Christmas decorations that festoon his house. http://www.spike.com/video/national-lampoons/2483049

I think a lot of us have loved A Christmas Story and the adventures of young Ralphie as he battles bullies and tries desperately to get his Red Rider BB Gun.  One of the classic scenes is the Santa Claus visit which is the nightmare of every kid. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtwVgOmPNPE If you don’t have the film, buy a leg lamp and watch it during the 24 hour Christmas Story Marathon on TBS beginning Christmas Eve.

Home Alone is a holiday riot as Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) gets left behind when his family takes a European vacation. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern star as bungling burglars who expect that Culkin’s house is unoccupied.  One of the funniest scenes is where the young Kevin McAllister scares them to death with a gangster movie. http://www.hulu.com/watch/12863/home-alone-filthy-animalhttp://www.hulu.com/watch/12863/home-alone-filthy-animal It was followed by several sequels only one of which Home Alone 2 is worth the time to watch.

While it is not expressly a Christmas movie 1983’s Trading Places starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy sees a up and coming commodities broker (Aykroyd) and a con man (Murphy) http://movieclips.com/VMFc2-trading-places-movie-i-can-see/ being used by Akroyd’s employers played by Don Amiche and Ralph Bellamy who bet against each other over the issue of heredity versus environment and which matters more to success. Aykroyd who ends up losing everything sets out to bring Murphy down dressin up as Santa Claus and sneaking into the firm’s Christmas party. http://movieclips.com/BXzgL-trading-places-movie-very-bad-santa/

Speaking of “Bad Santa’s” Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa is pretty good.  Thornton plays a Santa that robs the department store where he works but learns something about the meaning of Christmas from a young boy that invites “Santa” and his Elf into his home at Christmas.

Rounding out my picks are The Ref where Dennis Leary plays a unwitting robber who gets stuck with a horrible family that he is forced to take hostage and then try to solve their problems before he gets caught by the police and Jim Carey’s version of the Grinch.

As a bonus while not a movie there is Merry Christmas Mr. Bean which was part of the BBC series Mr. Bean staring Rowan Atkinson. Probably my favorite short Christmas show ever made. The three links here provide the episode in its entirety.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWtbJ1Uf-90

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JmBaCgcgMY&feature=relatedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JmBaCgcgMY&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShF6wrqvB08&feature=relatedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShF6wrqvB08&feature=related

So enjoy my friends,

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Merry Christmas or Whatever You Celebrate

“It’s Christmas Eve. It’s-it’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we-we-we smile a little easier, we-w-w-we-we-we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be.” Bill Murray as Frank Cross in Scrooged


Well, not exactly Christmas Eve….but who’s counting?

Well just a couple of days left until Christmas Eve which if you are Catholic, Anglican or Orthodox actually counts the same as Christmas day for sacramental purposes.  The Parish that the Abbess attends is having its “Midnight Mass” at 9 PM but I should not criticize.  When I was out visiting the little camps of advisers on the Iraqi-Syrian border in 2007 I moved the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass to the 23rd for the Marines and other advisers at COP South.  I figured no one else was out doing Christmas with these guys so why not, after all it was already Christmas Eve somewhere.

Anyway, I want to take this time to thank my readers and wish them a Merry Christmas, unless of course they are Jewish, Happy Hanukah.  Of course I have other friends and readers who are of different faiths or non-faiths.  I wish all my Wiccan readers a belated Happy Winter Solstice, my Moslem readers a Happy Eid. To my Atheist readers have a happy day off. Finally to the Jehovah’s Witness readers, sorry you get no presents and not only that if you guys are right only about one half of one percent of you will get to do anything other than pick fruit and pet animals for eternity anyway so enjoy. Heck even Atheists can buy presents for people at Christmas without any guilt because it helps the economy and makes people feel good.

So since everyone has reason to celebrate let us do so.  Of course many still have some hurdles to get over before you can open whatever presents you get, buy for yourself or can’t have because you’re a Jehovah’s Witness.  Among those things are fighting crowded malls, post offices, bad traffic and people infected with the holiday spirit which I think might also be called “road rage.”  Anyway most of us will navigate these treacherous waters as we travel over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s second ex-husband’s girlfriend’s brother’s house for some holiday cheer.  Actually the Abbess and I will spend it together and with our friends Pat and Jim, but most people call him Jim for Christmas day.

Anyway all seriousness aside the holidays, whichever one you celebrate, or don’t celebrate can be fraught with dangers toils and snares; from some of which we have not already come.  Yes there are the “Ghosts of Christmas Past,” the Christmas’s or other holidays that went to hell and are forever embedded in the back of our pea brains just waiting to jump out in the middle of the night.  Of course there are the “Ghost’s of Christmas Present,” the “demons” that crowd our daily lives that show up when we don’t want them to and causing us stress, pain and undue anxiety.  Finally there are the “Ghost’s of Christmas Yet to Come” that inhabit our dreams and either causing us to give in to fatalism and despair or to make a change for the better, I believe that in the latter case Christians call this repentance, but regardless of what it is called it is the better option.  Christmas and I guess other folk’s holidays can do this to you.

I mentioned in a previous article on this site about my crisis of faith since my return from Iraq how difficult Christmas can be and how fragile faith can be.  For a lot of people the holidays bring up all the hurt, pain, failure and rejection they have ever experienced rolled into a big turd sandwich served cold with chips instead of fries and Pepsi instead of Coke. Having gone through this last year I can understand just how people can despair in a time that should be full of hope, grace and peace. One person I know told me that Charlie Brown couldn’t compete with them. I

In our house this can be a difficult time mainly due to the Ghosts of Christmas past that inhabit both of our lives and the “Ghosts of Christmas Yet to Come: which occasionally pay their visits.  However we work hard not to let that happen. Over the past few weeks the Abbess has been working on making decorations for our tree.  Now we have tons of decorations for the tree, many from Germany.  However she has decided that she decided she wanted to do something different this year.  She made what has to be hundreds of ornaments out of various beads, crystals, ribbons and bows.  Between that and a lot of other activities we are exhausted.  I ended up after she went to bed decoration the tree.  The ornaments look great. I went to bed and of course got up before her to go to work. I turned on the tree lights and turned the other lights off. The tree was beautiful and when she got up she got to see the fruit of her hard work.  It was cool and the tree is beautiful.

Today I was fortunate to get off a bit early.  I was able to get home and go with the Abbess to visit East Berlin to do some shopping.  This to locals is known as the base commissary although Wal-Mart is often very similar.  If you have read anything on this site regarding my dealings with the Ghost of PTSD know that crowds are not good for me unless they are in a ballpark. The commissary is a place that I do not like going but it was a necessary trip.  I survived though it did feel like my skin was crawling as I got stuck in the far corner of the store were the checkout line began, just like the stores in East Berlin before the Wall came down.  Having been to East Berlin and waited in long lines in crowded stores to attempt to buy what was not there I get flashbacks, especially when the line Nazi, or better put Line Stasi agent tells you which checkout stand to proceed to when you get to the front of the line.

Now I’m sure that many of you will visit your own version of East Berlin be it in a mall, a Wal-Mart or a base Exchange or commissary in the next couple of days, but be of good cheer in spite of everything you won’t have to brave this again until the 26th when you have to take stuff back and deal with people in worse moods and dispositions than those that were out before Christmas as well as those who are angling for bargains and willing to kill you to get them. I can understand why Frank Costanza created “a Festivus for the rest of us.”  Of course in my family we sometimes experienced the airing of grievances but not the feats of strength associated with that holiday.  Serenity now!

So until Christmas or whatever holiday that you might or might not celebrate let us “don we now our happy clothing” as we “deck the halls” while we drive our SUVs to Grandmother’s ex-second husband’s girlfriend’s house to watch football games in anticipation of baseball season as spring training begins in just under two  months.

So until then have a blessed Christmas or whatever holiday you do or don’t do this year.

Peace, Padre Steve+

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