All I want for Christmas
I used to love Christmas.
Our family used to cut down our own real tree and put it up. We'd always have holiday music playing. And Dec. 24 and 25 was a whirlwind flurry of visiting as much of our family as possible.
I use the past tense there even though those things all still happen. But the crisp December days just don't hold the same magic for me anymore.
Maybe it's because I saw crass commercialism first-hand working at Meijer for more than two years. When the Halloween decorations came down, the Xmas (as in, nothing to do with Christ) decorations went up. When they started playing the festive music on about Nov. 15, they took great care not to include any songs about Jesus, which only left about a six-song rotation. Which I had to endure for eight hours a day. And since Meijer is so busy around the holidays, oftentimes I wouldn't get breaks.
Maybe it's because for four years as a student, I had to deal with a hellish week of final exams and term papers in about mid-December, then had to try and manufacture a Christmas spirit in something less than three weeks.
Whatever the reason, lately I've been something between a Grinch and a Scrooge for the holidays. And that's no fun. So hopefully I'm going to get into the spirit a little by revealing my Christmas list. I have it on good word that Santa is an Observer subscriber. If nothing else, he can use my column to line Rudolph's cage.
When I tell most people that what I want most is cold, hard, all-American greenbacks for Christmas, they look at me like my head's on backwards.
"I can't give you money for Christmas!" they say. "It doesn't show that I care!"
Bullnog. I'm so far in debt that just about the only way to show you care for me is to give me some money. Have you ever seen the CapitalOne commercials where the highlanders, the pirates, the cowboys and the ghosts chase after people? Well, I own an overdrawn CapitalOne MasterCard, and they're going to start coming after me soon. And unlike the commercials where helpful friends and spouses whip out a CapitalOne card to frighten away the pursuers, the only shield I can get is a bunch of money. What's in my wallet? Nothing. (I also owe Discover card my soul, too, but hopefully, if I don't pay up, they'll only slash my tires.)
In the last couple years I've made horribly embarrassing revelations about myself and discussed them at length. Just about the only thing I haven't mentioned is my shoe size. Get this: 16EEEE. I'm not lying. Yes, my shoes are that large. And you know what that means. (It means I have big feet. Jeez, what were you thinking? Oh, THAT? That's just perverted.) Since my tootsies are so large that I basically need canoes for them, selection is limited. There's only one store in town that even carries shoes that huge. And since there's so much material needed for footwear that monstrous, even with Malaysian kids working in sweatshops, they still cost more than $100. And that's just for generic brands. But I'll wear them until they fall apart, so it's a solid investment.
3. A good football coach
I got an early Christmas present when Bob Davie received his pink slip last week. Even though he nearly ran me down with his golf cart once as I was walking around the Stadium, I believe that he is a fine human being, and I'm saddened that he was not the right guy for the job. I congratulate his efforts to run a clean program and have successful student-athletes with high graduation rates. But those should not be the sum of a football team's accomplishments, but rather just the start.
If, in five years, Bob Davie — or Lou Holtz or Ara Parseghian or Knute Rockne — has done nothing but accomplish merely the fundamental, rudimentary, background, stepping stones of a program, it's proof that the head coach has not done his job. It's not just about wins and losses, or money. It's about striving for excellence in everything we do. Under Bob Davie, we were sometimes pretty good and other times mediocre. At Notre Dame, that's just not good enough.
So, if you have heard the reports, we do have a new coach — George O'Leary. Hopefully he can take the solid efforts he made with the Ramblin' Wreck and give all of us a championship with the Fightin' Irish.
I have other, smaller Christmas wishes — some CDs or movies I like, maybe one of those George Foreman grills, Microsoft stock, a new Corvette Z06, Tyra Banks under some mistletoe — you know, nothing huge or impossible. I feel some magic coming on.
Mike Marchand, class of 2001, is a contributor to RealClearPolitics and The Politix Group. His e-mail address is Marchand.firstname.lastname@example.org. "Undistinguished Alumnus" appears every other Monday.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Monday, December 10, 2001