All About (Christmas) Eve
Where’s Barry McGuire when you really need him?
By Ed Goldman
Just in case you missed the news, today’s Christmas Eve. Wait. Make that tonight’s Christmas Eve. Or at least, this evening will be. ¡Ay, caramba!
“Eves” are difficult to assign a time to—unless you go back to the apocalyptic rock-‘n’-roll hit, “Eve of Destruction,” whose 1964 prediction about the imminent collapse of civilization was, as we’ve learned, completely correct.
Yule Be Sorry
Memorably growled by Barry McGuire—who gave the impression that he not only got up on the wrong side of the bed every morning but also deliberately slipped into it the previous night—the song, written by P. F. Sloan, comes sooo close to evoking great philosophers such as Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, and legendary poets like Yeats, Keats and Frost:
“Yeah, my blood’s so mad, feels like coagulatin’
I’m sittin’ here just contemplatin’
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation
Handful of Senators don’t pass legislation
And marches alone can’t bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin’
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'”
In my experience, when my blood “feels like coagulatin'” I’m well beyond the need for anger management therapy.
Christmas Eve is all about the opposite of destruction, of course. It’s about hope, love, charity and goodwill—but for the more agnostic among us, it also conjures the prospect of last-minute blow-out prices on major appliances.
This year, though, our country is more subdivided than a grapefruit carved into sections by a drunk. And while I’m sure that pockets of hope, love, charity and goodwill can still be located without resorting to anointed GPS technology, the prices of major appliances this year may cause some agnostics to inaptly invoke the name of the Prince of Peace.
Don’t be lulled into thinking this heralds imminent conversions. Yelling “Jesus!” while slapping the side of one’s head rarely signals divine change.
Like many of you, I love the Christmas Eve of movies and Hallmark TV specials. Even when the film’s an old black-and-white feature (and has yet to be colorized by Ted Turner’s Crew of Crayola Crazies) you can still sense the rich red of the hideous sweaters, imagine the emerald green of the fake fir trees and practically smell the lack of meat in the mincemeat pies.
When the film or special is in color, it’s that much more inviting and festive, though we may pause to wonder how anyone could get through a winter indoors with a décor created by the designers of Trix cereal.
In many of these shows, the noble adults, adorable children and even the villain-due-for-a-comeuppance-in-the-last-10-minutes are bundled into cozy cardigans, scarfs, overcoats, woolen hats and galoshes. Unfortunately, most of us watching are aware that these shows were filmed the previous summer in Los Angeles—meaning those sparkling droplets on the faces of the noble adults, adorable children and villain aren’t tears of joy. They’re beads of sweat.
Finally, I should note that Barry McGuire himself became an evangelical Christian after he made a pile of earthly money for his recording of “Eve of Destruction,” which hovered at Number One on the pop music charts for months. I hope his success got his blood to feel less like coagulatin’ and more like deliquescin’.
I wish you and yours a lovely, loving Christmas Eve. And Day. And Night. ¡Ay, caramba!