A digital commonplace for a Regular Guy called Charlie Pharis

Category: Christmas (page 1 of 3)


starbucks cup, red door, brown leaf

Sarah Gilbert via Compfight

The saddest place in America is Starbucks the day they stop using the red cups after Christmas. The second saddest place is the Christmas decorations aisle of the department store when all the leftover trimmings go on sale.

After all the anticipation starting at Thanksgiving, all of a sudden, Christmas is over.

Just. Over.

It comes. It goes. And we are left with a cleanup job we are hesitant to do.

Even if you celebrate Christmas the way it’s celebrated according to the liturgical calendar – Twelve Days, Epiphany, and all that – there is still something quite depressing about finally letting go of Christmas and getting back to the normal routine.

I drove down my street yesterday, looking at the houses that still had Christmas decorations up. I wondered if the folks inside just hadn’t gotten around to cleaning up or if they were keeping their decorations up to prolong the joy of the holiday season as long as possible.

I wondered if there were loved ones – maybe serving in the military – who hadn’t made it home yet. Maybe the decorations were ready for a delayed Christmas homecoming.

I wondered if the children and grandchildren were far off at Christmas. Maybe they were with the “other” parents and their families. Perhaps there was an unexpected crisis that postponed the holiday at home.

Maybe those families just can’t bear the thought of the effort required to take down and pack up.

For whatever reason, leftover decorations in the first full week of January seem, well…sad.

The routine beckons. There are things to do. The kids are back in school. The office will be in full swing. It’s back to “normal,” whatever that means these days.

But I say there’s an antidote. I say take the decorations down, fine.

But I also say keep Christmas alive all week, all month, and yep…even all year long. That’s the transformative power of Christmas in its truest sense. That’s how crotchety old Scrooge changed to generous new Ebenezer. He said, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol).

Sad to see Christmas end? Sure! Disappointed that it’s over, at least for another year? Absolutely! But until Labor  Day (when everyone starts listening to Christmas music!), you and I can keep the joy of Christmas alive.

Great Christmas Song…

…and for the rest of the day, it’s FREE for download!

Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, there existed a group of God-servants from the far-flung corners of the universe, called the Redneck Pastors. That group sometimes included a bona fide Grammy winner, Displayer of the Mullet, and Master of the Red Keytar. Paul Joseph is a worship leader in Dalton, Georgia and his wife, Anna have written a great Christmas song called “Heaven in a Manger.”

It’s good, and — for the rest of today — it’s available for FREE download over at Paul’s blog.

Run, don’t walk over there and get yours today!

September 1! Labor Day! Christmas Music Begins!

You long-time readers of this space – all two of you! – will recognize that today is a red-and-green-letter day at the ol’ Just Charlie hacienda. It’s the day that Christmas music officially makes its debut for the year!

Go ahead…call me crazy if you want. Tell me it’s too early. Tell me I’ll be tired of it before Halloween. Tell me it’s too hot for Christmas music. Tell me all that if you must. I can barely wait for Labor Day each year because I just love the music of Christmas!

I let Pandora’s Jazz Holidays channel do the picking today, and as usual, it did not disappoint!

First up was The Eddie Higgins Trio doing “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Following that was Oscar Peterson’s “White Christmas,” Joe Pass’s great rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and right at this very moment…the great Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown Christmas classic “Christmas Time is Here!”

Grill your burgers and dogs. Spend one last day at the beach or the pool. Wear your white shoes and seersucker one last time. As for me, I’m listening to Christmas music!

Christmas Eve…

The lovely and gracious “Mrs. Just Charlie” is sound asleep. “The Boy” is out celebrating. I’m listening to the Jazz Holidays channel on Pandora. I’m working my way through a French press full of Christmas Blend

  • The more I think about it, especially with the funky way the school calendar falls this year, the more I’m inclined to celebrate Christmas the “old-fashioned” way. You know, start decorating, etc. on Christmas Eve, then have twelve days of simple but joyful celebration. Just a thought in an exhausted, frustrated mind.
  • I’m worried about not having the right kinds or amounts of Christmas gifts, and somebody in our area is spending the night in the hospital after a head-on collision about 3 miles from our house. Oh, and somebody else’s daughter is dead – along with her passenger and her unborn child. I’m praying for these families tonight. Won’t you?
  • I’m trying to formulate the right words to say if I get the chance tomorrow.
  • An awful lot of people were at the Y this morning doing a preemptive strategic strike on Christmas calories.
  • Our neighbor really does talk in more than monosyllabic sounds!
  • I’m determined to be a better husband, dad, leader, communicator, boss, son, and friend starting now.
  • John Maxwell is right: Talent Is Never Enough.
  • We had an intimate and elegant dinner this Christmas Eve. At Chick-Fil-A, just before they closed.
  • I have some gifts ordered, but they didn’t get here in time.
  • What time does the last Christmas Eve service in our area start?
  • I scored some small but thoughtful and practical gifts from Y members today. Cool!
  • I helped one of the neatest ladies get back on track with her fitness program. I had helped her daughter about a month ago. And the daughter specifically asked me to help her mom. Very cool!
  • If the M in YMCA stands for “Men’s,” why is everything so “girlie?”
  • I’m still digging Gesu Bambino!

Sunday Night Unwind, 12.23.07…

Long, long day. Tired. No music playing for the Unwind tonight. Not literally, anyway. Got an earworm for Gesu Bambino, as sung by one of the most gifted and talented sopranos I know…the great Alison Holmes Adams, who just happened to sing that tonight at our Christmas Eve Eve “Christmas Songs” program. And who also just happens to be the wife of our student minister (and the real reason we keep him around!) 🙂

Some Sunday night stuff…

  • Our pianist ain’t too shabby, either! (I’ll show you who he is when I find out where he is online!)
  • Our little group of singers is pretty OK, too! (Thanks, gang!)
  • The lovely and gracious “Mrs. Just Charlie” knows how to throw a party!
  • Lots of guests tonight – including some of “The Boy’s” buds!
  • Speaking of “The Boy…” I got a text message from him earlier this week that simply said: “I killed my dinner tonight.” He already got his Christmas gifts from us: Georgia Boots and blue jeans. He’s turning into a regular South Georgia good ol’ boy. Go figure…
  • I sat at brunch and post-concert reception today calculating how many strides on the elliptical machine it will take tomorrow to undo the nutritional damage I did today. Not good…
  • But, hey…doesn’t part of the Christmas magic include a magical, mystical disappearance of all calories in party goodies? I thought so…
  • I don’t care who you are, the Vince Guaraldi soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas sure makes for great Christmas party background music!
  • We talked about hiding Christmas gifts in plain view this morning. And isn’t that really what God did when Jesus showed up in a manger in Bethlehem?
  • Got one of these from one of my members. No, silly…not one of those members. One of these members!
  • Mmmmmm…sausage balls, tea cakes, red punch, hot wassail punch, chocolate chip cookies, pound cake, sugar cookies, etc! Did I mention the lovely and gracious “Mrs. Just Charlie” sure knows how to throw a party?!?!
  • 4:00 a.m. comes early in the morning, especially when it’ll be 20-something degrees outside. Brrrrrrr!

That’ll pretty much do it for me tonight! Where’s my cap? I’m settling in for a short winter’s nap…later!

Sunday Night Unwind, 12.09.07…


Got one of those “not-really-an-actual-album” compilation things going for tonight’s Unwind…a thrown-together selection of Christmas music by Alabama and Ronnie Milsap. Pretty good country Christmas stuff…especially Ronnie Milsap’s spectacular rendition of O Holy Night. And of course, there’s Joseph and Mary’s Boy, Santa Claus, I Still Believe in You, and the great classic (at least in my family!) Christmas in Dixie!

Some other thoughts that dropped out tonight…

  • I pretty much stunk up the place with my message today. Just never seemed to click. I guess that’s what being tired will do for you!
  • But then again, any Christmas message that includes references to J.I. Packer, T.S. Geisel, and M.H.Tormé can’t be all that bad, I suppose.
  • “The Boy” (recently dubbed “Whiney Boy” by “Mr. Know-It-All”) is finally getting a little relief after his recent surgery. He had a pretty graphic description on the phone today, but let’s just say there’s tremendous power in poop and leave it at that!
  • Cafetière à piston. Rôti français. Ooh la la, and pas mal, mon ami!
  • The things one can’t help but notice when helping people get set up on weight machines at the YMCA…
  • I love friends who challenge you and encourage you without even knowing it.
  • Hey, how ’bout that Tebow kid for Heisman! I’m still a large Gator-hater and always will be, but it’s pretty cool to know that an historic Heisman Trophy winner is the brother of one of my best ministry friend’s daughter-in-law! (Yeah, yeah…six degrees and all that jazz!)
  • Did I mention I stunk up the joint this morning?
  • Did I mention our folks were gracious and forgiving?
  • I love type! I’m not a great – or even good! – designer, but playing with fonts floats my boat!
  • One of my strengths, according to the StrengthsFinder assessment is Input, meaning I collect things that may have real value in the future. I’ve come to the conclusion that the collecting is not nearly as big a deal as the retrieval. And I need to work on that. A lot!
  • John Maxwell still pulls my chain after all these years!
  • The fact of the Incarnation is staggering!