White Trash ChristmasSome would say these two don’t go together. Some would say American culture IS crap. I say there must be a symbiosis. And, if there is, I’ll find it. Because, for the month of December, I’m devoting myself, in equal measures, to Crap and to Culture.

Let me explain. One of the large looming projects on my To-Do List has been to shovel out all the stuff we’ve accumulated over 25 years of living in the same Victorian in San Francisco. We don’t yet have a house in Sonoma — just the barn. But when we do, I refuse to clean out San Francisco by transporting truckloads of crap up there. Now, I’m not saying we’re ready for an episode of Hoarders. But we are a household that seems to have amassed four complete fondue sets. I’m expecting a daunting task. Still, I’m committed to shovelling out four times every century whether we need it or not.

That takes care of the Crap. I’m raising the bar by doing this in December, a month when, historically, crap accumulation reaches its high point. Given that we are also a household where all Christmas wrapping is dutifully saved to be recycled on future gifts — but somehow ends up in the back of various closets — this will be a challenge.

Now for the Culture. I’ve just spent 3 months — mostly on my own with two terriers — living in a barn in the wilds of Sonoma for the 2010 grape harvest. In fact, I just got back into town for good the Friday before Thanksgiving. But during that time, I had to make two long day trips back up to Sonoma for various reasons. What with Thanksgiving preparations, that left me little time to reacclimate back to City Life. Of course, the first week back from country living without TV, radio or reliable cell phone access does require a certain immersion back into Pop Culture. Now sufficiently caught up with Tivo’d episodes of Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife and various flavors of Law & Order, I’m ready to reacquaint myself with the things I love about City Life. That means symphony, opera, museums, etc.

December is a good time for this endeavor, especially with a Brit in the house. The British, it could be argued, gave us our version of Christmas, complete with decorated trees, Santa, figgy pudding and Christmas carols. Most social historians agree it was Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, who brought most of these trappings to England from his native Germany in the early 1800s. The British have never looked back. Americans in the Victorian Era, always looking to copy anything British, followed suit. See, we didn’t really have an American Christmas tradition. The Pilgrims, those kill-joys, purposely never celebrated Christmas and Easter because such celebrations weren’t specifically discussed in their King James Bibles. Thank goodness their kind are no longer with us.

Winterhalter portrain of Queen Victoria and family

Most credit that Jolly Olde Victorian Prince Albert for Christmas as we know it. Clearly the family had a thing for red velvet. Portrait of the Royal Family by Franz Winterhalter.

No, in our household, Thanksgiving is barely over before Andy’s demanding that I organized a full schedule of Christmas concerts, visits to tree trimming ceremonies and ice-skating down at the Embarcadero on the Kristi Yamaguchi Ice Rink. For Andy, if we haven’t heard a boy’s choir singing traditional English carols by December 6th, the whole season is ruined.

So I’ll be stretching the Culture thing. Because…well…things like Kristi Yamaguchi’s Ice Rink are part of my culture.

So here’s the deal: for the next thirty days, every day, I’ll be doing something Cultural. Or addressing some sort of clean-out project on our Crap. Maybe both. It will be interesting to see which of these two ends of the spectrum get most of my attention and efforts. Will I emerge more Cultured? Or just less full of Crap? Will the goals start to merge so that I become an afficianado of Crap Culture? (I can’t see that happening unless a Jeff Koons retrospective hits town.)

Well, it’s good to have goals. Stay tuned and keep score.

File this post under: Crap AND Culture

Meanwhile, to get us in the mood, here’s that timeless holiday classic, Stop Giving Me Crap for Christmas:

Album artwork at top of post from Bob River’s album. Available here.

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Oh, and I'm going to try for a post a day with National Blog Posting Month!

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