Follow Me

by David Todd McCarty | Monday, December 21, 2015


Santa Claus.

I didn’t believe in Santa Claus as a kid. Ever. It just wasn’t part of our culture growing up. You might think that’s sad, but I never felt like I was missing out on anything. Frankly, I think I would have been pissed once I found out I was being lied to. I was that kind of kid.

My parents were Conservative Evangelical Christians when we were growing up. They’ve loosened up considerably as they’ve gotten older, but in my formative years they felt it was important that we lived apart from the world, and that meant that we celebrated the birth of Christ in a traditional manner without the intrusion of Santa Claus and his merry elves.

Of course, that’s not really true since we had a Christmas Tree, decorated with Santa Claus figures, reindeer, elves, red bows, popcorn strings and every other pagan ritual that had been coopted centuries earlier by the Christian Church.

It was a traditional, American, Christian Christmas. We knew well the story of Jesus and his arrival on earth. The Angles, Mary, Joseph, The No-Vacancy Inn, The Manger, The Shepherds, The Wise Men and even mean old King Herod. It was a story made safe for Children, without the immaculate conception, infanticide, barn birthing and the fact that the wise men showed up two years later, before being left in church, growing up to live a life of poverty and ultimately be murdered in the most painful way imaginable so that we didn’t have to go to hell.

So we would be watching Rudolph The Red-Nose Reindeer and my mother would walk into the room and announce, “You know that’s not why we celebrate Christmas….” We would all moan and say, “Yes Mom. We know. It’s just a show. Can we please just watch it?”

The upside, I guess, was that we knew the truth. We knew where the presents came from. They came from our parents, and grandparents and friends. None of that magical nonsense for us.

The downside, I suppose, is that we never had a concept of anything but a fictional, fairy tale Santa. For that matter, we never believed in the Tooth Fairy and certainly not the Easter Bunny, a decidedly harrier story retold about a zombie Messiah coming back from the dead, rather than a rabbit bringing toys and chocolate to boys and girls in little baskets filled with plastic green grass.

But it was what we knew and we were happy and we knew we were loved.

So there’s that.

read more

by David Todd McCarty | Sunday, December 20, 2015


Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve in my parents house was not a time for presents, egg nog, extended family or any particular food item. It was the night before the event, not the event itself.

Our main tradition on Christmas Eve was to go to church. We’d grumble a little maybe, asking if we really needed to go, but really, it was the best service of the year. Unlike the Catholics, Christmas Eve service didn’t count for Sunday service. It wasn’t a Mass. It was an extra service. Special.

I grew up Orthodox Presbyterian. The Christmas Eve service was always very traditional. The pastor would tell the Christmas story. Maybe some kids would recite a few Bible verses. Maybe a small choir would sing. But mostly, the pastor would read from the Bible, say a few words, and then the rest of the service would be devoted to lighting candles and singing Christmas carols.

read more



by David Todd McCarty | Saturday, December 19, 2015



Christmas Presents.

I love packaging, which is why I used to like wrapping presents so much. I would spend hours and hours wrapping each present by hand (how else would you wrap them?), using brown paper and twine, raffia bows and handwritten notes. I hung tags from them and decorated the outside.

I think it was my first Christmas with the woman who was to become my wife and her three children, I had spent a lot of time, thought and money buying presents that year.

I don’t think I went overboard on the kids. I got them each a few nice things, but I wasn’t trying to win them over or anything, and they were all pretty young. I was, however, trying to impress the girlfriend.

I meticulously wrapped each gift with brown kraft paper. Then I hand-wrote a small card for each gift, explaining why I thought it was a good gift. Each card was enclosed in a handmade envelope. The package was then wrapped in a raffia bow and the envelope hung from the twine.

What can I say, I was in love. It was one of my best Christmases ever.

read more

by David Todd McCarty | Friday, December 18, 2015


Christmas Shopping.

There is a story that is very much a part of the lore of Christmas in my house. It involves my mother and she doesn’t even remember it happening.

She was in Macy’s buying a pair of gloves for someone, presumably by father, and there was a line at the register. It was the height of the season and tensions were high. The cashier was apparently getting frazzled and by the time my mother got to him he expressed his displeasure.

“I’m sorry,” he said after snapping about something. “I’m just tired.”

“Well,” my mother countered. “We’re all tired dear.”

read more

by David Todd McCarty | Thursday, December 17, 2015


Christmas Decorating.

I’ve already covered Christmas Tree decorations, so I won’t be covering that here. If you missed it, go back to Part One and start over. Stop skipping around. These are rules, not suggestions.

Today I want to talk about decorating for Christmas. This is something that I accept as a very personal matter, so I’m much more loose about this aspect of Christmas. To each his own, as they say. I don’t care much how you decide to decorate your home for Christmas. This is how I choose to decorate mine. I’ll go ahead and just say for the record, before my wife Jane jumps in here, that I don’t do any of the decorating, so this is more of a theoretical discussion. I will also go on record saying that Jane does a wonderful job and we share a common aesthetic, so it’s all good.

Now that we no longer have kids living in the house, we’ve more or less dispensed with the childlike, tackier decorations usually associated with young children. For instance, if we were to have a Santa, he’d be a whimsical, folk art Santa, as opposed to a cartoon Santa. That sort of thing.

read more

by David Todd McCarty | Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Exterior Illumination.

Just like Rusty, my father taught me everything I know about exterior illumination, which is absolutely nothing. My father is not a handy man and I inherited this lack of skill. We never had lights on the outside of our house, or in the trees, or any of that happy horseshit, and I for the most part, never did at my house either. I’ve toyed with the idea over the years, but it seems like a lot of work, for not a lot of reward, and then you have take them down. While my father did not believe in hanging exterior lights, I think he enjoyed the concept, because we would all be loaded into the station wagon and driven around housing developments, looking at other people’s lights. Maybe he was just giggling to himself that at least he didn’t have to take them down. Maybe he really liked them. Maybe he was just killing time. I’m not really sure. I’ll have to ask him.

For the most part, the decorated house runs in three categories: Sad, Tasteful and Excessive.

read more