Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Bah Humbug! - Seventh Day

It's time to let curmudgeons and scrooges have a platform. For a few days this calendar will concentrate on some rather sardonic views and selfish attitudes.

I'll start with Ambrose Bierce.

Ambrose Bierce

Christmas, n.

A day set apart and consecrated to gluttony, drunkenness, maudlin sentiment, gift-taking, public dullness and domestic behaviour.

What! Not religious?
On every Christmas Day how drunk I get!
O, I'm a Christian - not a pious monk
Honours the Master with so dead a drunk.

Ambrose Bierce, nicknamed 'Bitter Bierce'  (1842-1913) was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist and satirist. He is best known for his short story 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' and his 'Devil's Dictionary'. The above quotation is an excerpt from the latter. 

I think the definition may have a grain of truth in it.


Or how about this advice for getting rid of unwanted visitors:

"There is no better use of having your children noisy and troublesome, than this of plaguing all your acquaintance. For you may suffer them, when you have visitors, to make such a racket that you cannot hear one another speak. Let them also, with their greasy fingers, soil and besmear your visitors' clothes;
put their fingers and dirty noses (if you are drinking tea) into the cream pot, and dribble over the sugar;  throw the remainder of the cream over somebody's clean gown; and thrust bread and butter down the ladies' backs; and in short, be more troublesome and offensive than squirrels, parrots or monkeys."

This invaluable advice comes from Jane Collier in The Art of Ingeniously Tormenting 1753


  1. So that was why my parents had so many of us!

    My father claimed a quick kick up the backside just as we reached Customs - resulting in tears and tantrums - always ensured no delays there. Nowadays he would be locked up for even suggesting it!

  2. What a jolly chap Bierce was but he got invited out a lot! I think some parents still use that ploy I have certainly had children to play who behaved so badly I could have given tehm a good kick up the posterior!!

  3. Just a week ago, I was feeling rather Scroogish myself. Our Christmas celebrating, beginning this weekend, means, I must put on that happy face and celebrate highly with those I love. Good thing I made lots of potent brandy balls. Should the wee ones get too rambunctious, I may have to just take them outside and start a snowball fight. I can think of other ways of controlling their excitement, but like Madam Butterfly stated, I'd surely be arrested.

  4. Gosh Ambrose was a bitter dude wasn't he?
    As for kids, I grew up in the era where we were seen but not heard. Our family had lots of unwanted company we kids could have run off had we just been given free rein.

  5. Actually this sounds heavenly as my Christmas will be small. The house will be small, the yard small, but the love big.

  6. friko i've drunk bitter beers but not heard of the man himself! wow! what an insightful grump!! steven

  7. We need those grumps or Scrooges to keep us in line, balanced, whatever. You didn't really mean what you said about me going away, did you? I did try to temper the sunniness of the post with a visit to the swamp.

  8. Oh that's why when she truly wanted to visit with someone, she would remind us to be seen and not heard... but the other times she would fill us with candy or cookies before they came... hhmmmm... smiles.

  9. I definitely fall into the scrooge category. It's all a bunch of commercial hype.

  10. I don't have trouble with actual guests, but I have encouraged noisy behavior when salesmen arrive at my door or telephone my home.
    It makes me laugh that someone had the idea of writing it all down back in 1753.

  11. Oh dear - I like to think of all the positive things about Christmas - and its only commercial hype if we let it be - just do your own thing and enjoy!

  12. Ohhhhhhhh, wasn't he a charmer??? Mercy!!

    I think we've found the original ancestor of both Scrooge and the Grinch!!


  13. Runny noses have always been a problem for me. Sshhhh! Don't tell anyone.

  14. Old Ambrose, cynic that he was, could often be on point about things, and I think there is more than a grain of truth in his observations about Christmas. If he could witness Christmas in the 21st century, he would surely be even more caustic!

  15. stark! - und fast schockierend, aber so wahr, nicht?!

  16. Oh Friko. I could have gone all season without this guy who once remarked, "Democracy is four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch."

  17. They both have exactly the right idea.

  18. An interesting peek into a historical character. I'm trying hard myself to get into the Christmas spirit. :)

  19. A day set apart and consecrated to gluttony, drunkenness, maudlin sentiment, gift-taking, public dullness and domestic behaviour.

    No wonder I like Christmas so much. By the way, you Europeans sure do spell behavior funny.

  20. Collier's Christmas sounds pretty true-to-life to me.

    Bah, humbug!

  21. What a nice Advent treat for us!
    And it is a perfect segue to share
    my own humbug poem:

    Tiny Tims

    Two small knocks, then
    “Whatcha’ doin’, Pop?”
    comes in chorus from
    my two grandsons, both
    under five, holding my den door
    open, buzz-cut heads still
    beneath the brass knob.

    “Pop’s working at the computer,” I said,
    “On a poem,” I thought.

    “We love you,” both chimed
    as the door closed.

    I am smiling, tough but tender,
    soundly touched as I gleefully
    witness the excommunication
    of the haggard humbug
    that tends to rise up with me
    around the holidays.

    Glenn Buttkus

    December 2010

  22. Oh, very good, indeed! Not often one sees Ambrose Bierce mentioned in a post--and certainly not to such good effect.

  23. What's Christmas without dealing with the full diversity of human nature.

  24. This was just a hoot...my family is in a bit of flux right now, and this was just the chuckle I needed...thank you...from the bottom of my heart.

  25. I wonder if Ambrose appears anywhere on my family tree? As unpleasant as he sounds, I find myself drawn to nod in very disturbing agreement.


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