Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
April 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor comes to the Rochester Civic Theatre for a night of stories, songs, poetry, and humor. Tickets $50 and up
February 19, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 2 of 2. Tickets $30+
February 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 1 of 2. Tickets $30+
It was, in my opinion, the best Christmas ever. Men are running the country whom you wouldn’t trust to heat up frozen dinners, a government shutdown meant that TSA people worked as volunteers (and also the DOJ employees investigating Individual-1’s dealings with the Russians), and on Wall Street the blue chips were selling like buffalo chips, and yet, in my aged memory, granted that the MRI map of my brain shows numerous multipolar contextually based synopses and a narrowing of the left strabismal isthmus, my little family had a beautiful and blessed week.
We had flown out to New York the Thursday before, after weeks of frenetic downsizing, moving from a big house to a little apartment, and somewhere over Michigan I realized that there was no more packing and disposing to be done, and I fell asleep in 10B, my daughter’s head on my left shoulder. On Friday she and I hiked over to Madison Avenue, the shopping arcade for foreign oligarchs, and purchased a gift for my wife, a simple article of clothing that cost more than what, back in college, I paid for a Ford Mustang, and it gave me a thrill to insert my credit card in the reader, thinking that it would’ve killed my father to pay that much. But then he’d be 105 now and maybe that’d be merciful.
That night we went to our old neighborhood restaurant where we had our wedding dinner back in 1995 and the waitress Danielle, who sang “La Vie en Rose” to us that happy night, came over and hugged us. I kissed her on both cheeks. There was bonhomie all over the place. Friday night we took the C train to Brooklyn for dinner with nephew Byron and his wife, Mylene. She is French so her name is pronounced me-LEN, not my-LEAN. I kissed her on both cheeks too.
We rode back to Manhattan on the train, cheek to jowl with weary women, lost souls, stern-faced millennials, beadles, clerks, a crowd right out of Charles Dickens. In New York, diversity is a fact, it isn’t a formula imposed by the diversity committee. You look around and see that you are a minority, same as everyone else.
It wasn’t until Saturday I figured out what made this Christmas happier for me. I walked around the Upper West Side shopping for four Christmas stockings and it dawned on me that I did not hear a cataract of Christmas music dripping like melted plastic from every shop ceiling. Back home in Minnesota, Christmas can become toxic. I have a “Little Drummer Boy” allergy and when I hear the rum-pum-pum-pum-rum-pum-pum-pum, my face swells up and EMTs need to put the paddles on my chest. I am not fond of turkey. I think “The Nutcracker” is a dumb story. I saw “A Christmas Carol” once and once was enough. I love the evergreens, the stockings, and the late-night Christmas Eve service at church. “Messiah” is fine, with the right singers, but it needs editing.
What makes Christmas in New York so wonderful is that it’s not unanimous. There are so many Jews and Muslims and militant agnostics around to keep the holiday from being totalitarian. So we Christians can enjoy it without requiring everyone to line up and salute. The presence of heterodoxy makes my orthodoxy more beautiful to me. If, walking along Columbus Avenue, I heard “Silent Night” ninety-seven times sung by every pop star plus the Mormons, it would obliterate the miracle of Christmas Eve when a church packed with believers sings it acappella holding candles.
The men who can’t heat up the frozen dinner all wear flag buttons in their lapels. Every single one of them. This was not always the case. Politicians of yore wore suits with unpinned lapels. Then somebody stuck a pin on himself and now it is a requirement for holding public office. Meanwhile, Individual-1 is having fits and America is causing anxiety around the world except in Russia, China, North Korea, and Syria. It might be time for some people to unpin themselves and start thinking.
And then it was Christmas. A day when blessedness falls like snow. I can’t make you see it and I wouldn’t want to. But I know it. You are dearly loved. Tell me your troubles, I’ll tell you mine, but the truth is that we are deeply profoundly blessed. This is the meaning of Christmas, to raise your face to the sky and let little crystals of blessing fall on your skin. You can go back to irony and satire tomorrow but first let yourself be blessed.