Merry Christmas

The Staff of Redneck Latte Ravings wishes you the Happiest of Holiday Seasons.

Christmas Card

What ever you celebrate, how ever you celebrate, may it be a safe and happy day.

Merry Christmas!

 

Home For Christmas

I’ll be home for Christmas this year.

My home, I ain’t goin’ no where!

Oh, it’s not that I wouldn’t like to be with my family at this horrid, crazy, hectic, stressful, crappy wonderful time of the year, I just can’t get away.

Work and all.

There are many, many Christmas songs I love, and one of them is I’ll Be Home For Christmas.

Originally written to honor soldiers overseas, it was a top ten hit for Bing Crosby in 1943.

But, the song almost didn’t happen!

The song is sung from the point of view of a soldier overseas during WWII.

He’s writing a letter to his family telling them he will be coming home, and to prepare the holiday for him including requests for “snow”, “mistletoe”, and “presents on the tree”.

The song ends in a tear-jerker, with the soldier saying “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.

When writer Kim Gannon pitched the song music execs, they turned it down because the last line was deemed too sad.

They were worried that all those separated from their loved ones in the military might get depressed.

I mean, if they weren’t already!

Out playing golf with Bing Crosby one day, Gannon sang the song for Bing.

The crooner decided then and there to record it. It ended up as the flip side of “White Christmas,” and it topped the charts for eleven weeks.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas is included in nearly every Crosby compilation and has been recorded by practically every singer out there.

With World War II raging, despite its popularity in the US, the BBC banned the song fearing it might lower morale among the British Troops.

But, the standard persevered and remains one of the most requested and most popular Christmas songs today.

In 1965, while in space, Astronauts Jim Lovell and Frank Borman asked the NASA ground crew to play the song.

It touches every one.

Every time I hear it, I mist UP a little, but I love the song, and it’s one of my own Christmas Piano standards.

Here’s Bing’s version:

And if you’re not a Bing fan, here’s Kelly Clarkson’s.

…and if that doesn’t do it, here’s my favorite, Karen Carpenter’s…

Who’s your favorite?

Star of Wonder, Star of Light

There’s been much the last few years about the Christmas Holiday and its many traditions.  The whys and wherefores of what we do to celebrate this time of year are varied, fun, and many rich in history.

Recently, there was a post by a minister (of the Christian variety) telling Christians some things they shouldn’t do when celebrating Christmas.

He was making a point that not all people in the world celebrate the Christian Holiday of Christmas, and that there are two celebrations, one religious and one secular.

Which is true.

He was also making a point that our Christian beliefs might offend someone.

Which is also true. And annoying.  I’m not offended by other religions and the holidays that come with them. What’s so annoying about the Birth of Jesus Christ?

Really, it was a good thing!

His list of don’ts was a tad annoying, and his sanctimoniousness was more than I could handle, but I read the entire post anyway.

His admonitions included things like don’t get UPset when people say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, because holiday is really an another word for Holy Day. And don’t get all huffy when people say we don’t really know what time of year Jesus was born, because it is highly unlikely that the shepherds were watching their flocks by night in December because it was probably too cold.

Now, I don’t get UPset when people say Happy Holidays, I get UPset when people get UPset when I say Merry Christmas!

Really, it’s UPsetting!

He also bashed the song “We Three Kings of Orient Are”, because they weren’t necessarily  kings, they were wise-men, we don’t know if there were three or three hundred, and we don’t know where they were from, other than they came from the East.  He also pontificated about the error of including the wise-men/magi/kings in a nativity scene, because the Bible says they came to the house where the child lay, and we all know from the Bible that Jesus was laid in a manger at birth, and if the wise-men went to a house, it was later, and Jesus would have been somewhere between a few weeks and two years old.

The Magi

Frankly, the dude annoyed me no end.

So, we don’t get all the facts exact in our songs or our traditions, and yes, there are two celebrations, but really, LIGHTEN UP!

It’s Christmas!

I’ll give him many points, but the last time I checked, “The East” generally refers to the Orient.

We generally assume there were three because of the three gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

So let’s talk about this on this day before the day before Christmas, shall we?

We refer to the visitors as “The Magi” even though the term is not used in the Bible.  It is translated that way in some versions, but in the KJV, Matthew, who is the only Gospel writer to include them, calls them wise-men.

Magi, were a class of Zoroastrian priests in ancient Media and Persia.  Most were astrologers, thus the star following, and some were said to have supernatural powers.

You know, like Mighty Mouse and Superman!

As they studied the stars constantly, when a new star appeared, it had to have had a meaning, so they took off after it.

OK, maybe they weren’t from Media and Persia.

And maybe there weren’t three.

There could have been several or several hundred and they could have come from many different places and met UP along the way.

I’m sure Wang Chung over in China sees the same stars that Bubba does in Blairsville and Akhmed sees in Arabia.

Some Christian religions have gone so far as to give them names and make them saints.

Melchior is supposed to be a Persian scholar; Caspar is from India, and Balthazar from Arabia.  Some traditions say that Balthazar was the King of Arabia.

Facebook, twitter, and instagram not being invented at the time, we just can’t be sure, now can we?

But, you know, I really don’t care how many there were, what their names were, if they were royal, or from whence they came.

And I love the song, “We Three Kings of Orient Are”.

They could have been kings.  Some kings have been very wise.

They could have been from the Orient, they came from the East.

And, there could have been three, they brought three gifts.

So, why bash the song?

It really has a great message.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain, Gold I bring to crown Him again, King forever, ceasing never, over us all to reign.

Gold, at that time, was generally held by royalty.  The Magi/wise-men/sorcerers/kings recognized that the star was leading them to a Royal King, born in Israel.  They brought Him gold as an offering fit for royalty.

Frankincense to offer have I, incense owns a Deity nigh, prayer and praising, all men raising, worship Him, God most high.

Frankincense, used in worship, represents the Deity of the Christ child, and lauds Him as the Divine King of Kings and Son of God.

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume breathes of life of gathering gloom, sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in a stone cold tomb.

Myrrh was used in burial rituals, and foretells the death of Christ on Calvary and His burial.

Glorious now behold Him arise, God and King and Sacrifice!  Alleluia, Alleluia, Heaven to Earth Replies.

The Wise Men tell us the Heavens cried out at this birth!

But, the best line is the chorus.

Star of wonder star of light, lead us to thy guiding light, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light.

In the Bible, every time someone went East, they were going away from God, every time someone went West, they were going towards God –the Perfect Light.

Look it UP, it’s in there.

So, maybe they weren’t kings, but we know they were from the East, they were headed West, and they were following a very special star that led them to Jesus.

And, we know they were wise.

Star of Wonder

And we know, wise men still seek Him.

Subtitled:  The story of a ruse.

It’s Christmas Time and there are more jewelry ads on television than hams at Publix!

Granted, some men do blow the holiday budget on the sparkly stuff, and the ladies love it!

Really, who doesn’t like jewelry, and a couple grand on a nice bauble comes with the implication that he not only went to Jared, but he put some thought into it.

Maybe not so.

First of all the ads are designed to make him haul his fat ass off the sofa, hop in the minivan, march to the mall, and slap down some coin.

To get him to do this, they go for the ruse.

Pandora’s sappy ad with the dad, mom, and daughter on the sofa leads us to believe that he put some thought into the charms he’s adding every year at $50 a pop, when in reality, she’s been leaving hints and thinking for him for the last 12 months.

And of course, we all know, every kiss begins with kay.

Well, duh, that’s how it’s spelled.

And then there’s that “rare-chocolate-diamond-rich-in-history” scam.

Chocolate Diamonds® is LeVian’s proprietary brand of natural fancy color diamonds.  Chosen for the three Cs: Color, Clarity, and Cut, and of course responsible sourcing, the diamond brand is relatively new, and very, very trendy.

It’s also pretty pricey.

And pretty, pretty.  They do do a nice job!

But, the truth about Chocolate Diamonds® is that they are simply brown diamonds.

Brown Diamonds at the Smithsonian

Brown Diamonds at the Smithsonian

And brown diamonds are THE most common type of diamond on the planet!

There are literally TONS of brown diamonds on earth.

Literally TONS!

As in a pant load, OK?

As a matter of fact, there are so many of them, the diamonds used in factories and machinery are brown.

If you’re running a plant, need something cut, well, haul out that ring baby, because it’s gonna’ do the job!

The rarest diamonds are blue, like the Hope Diamond…

The Hope Diamond

…brown, no so rare.

With the oversupply of brown diamonds, jewelers have been trying to market them for decades, and in the 1970s, cognac diamonds had a brief run.  They lasted about as long as Studio 54!

So, why all the sudden are brown diamonds all the rage?

LeVian of course.

The guys were working late, the boss was pressuring them for a new idea, Christmas was coming, the economy sucked, one shot of Jack lead to another, and someone said, “We’re never gonna’ make any money selling these brown rocks to factories, we need to come UP with a way to unload them.”

Finally, the quiet guy, and isn’t it always the quiet guy, said, “Chocolate!  That’s the ticket!!!  Women love chocolate, if Hershey can do it, so can we!! We’ll sell them as fashion!  Let’s make brown pretty!!!”, and viola!!!, the Chocolate Diamonds® brand was born.

Never mind that brown diamonds are A. worth far, far less than clear or any other color diamond, and B. worth far, far less than they are selling for.

Actually, at retailers, they sell for about four times their real value.

(Don’t believe me, just go try to sell one back and find out!)

In reality, Chocolate Diamonds® are simply the Chilean Sea Bass of jewelry!

Sea bass is sea bass, ok.

Brown diamonds are brown diamonds.

Not to be completely scroogey, and UPset a reader or two, there ARE some pretty famous Brown Diamonds.

The Golden Jubilee Diamond…

Golden Jubilee Diamond

…discovered in 1985, was originally 755.5 carats!

The Star of the South…

Star of the South

…the only great diamond found by a woman, has a great history, and now resides somewhere in India.

The Lesotho III…

From Ari to Jackie

…given to Jackie O by Aristotle Onassis, was at one time considered the most expensive engagement ring ever..but, the last time it was for sale, there were no bidders.

Diamonds are diamonds.

Brown is brown!

And Brown Diamonds are Brown Diamonds, no matter how you pretty them UP!

Geez, hope I haven’t screwed UP anyone’s Christmas list!