The Best of Andy Rooney

While we're thinking about it, this might be a good time to make some Christmas resolutions for the coming years. Here are some proposals:

1. Ban all recorded Christmas music in stores. Christmas music is too good to be used commercially. I sometimes have to flee a store and resume shopping at a later time because I no longer can take the repetitious sounds.

It seems as though the people who work in stores where the same recorded Christmas music is recycled over and over all day could be driven crazy. They must spend the night dreaming to Christmas music. If a store had a band of school kids singing or live musicians playing, this would be perfectly acceptable.

Some exceptions might be made for a store that didn't replay the same song more than twice a day.

2. Appoint an inspector general of Santa Clauses. He would have the authority to ban all seedy Santa Clauses.

Every Santa Claus would have to look right and sound right. The Santa Claus inspector would make sure children were no longer exposed to Santas 6 feet tall and weighing 135 pounds. Department store Santa Clauses have been pretty good over the years.

3. Prohibit all Christmas advertising before Thanksgiving.

Someone is always jumping the gun and filling a store window with Christmas presents in early November. They should be enjoined. Most good stores voluntarily hold off until after Thanksgiving. It isn't fair to them when the schlock merchants start pushing too early.

4. Stop fly-by-night Christmas tree entrepreneurs who often steal trees, bring them to town in a rented truck and set themselves up in an empty lot. They undercut the responsible places that sell Christmas trees from the same location year after year.

Every year, tens of thousands of trees are cut and brought to town. When they don't sell, they're dragged to the local dump or burned on the spot. Any place that sells Christmas trees should have to pay a $5 fee for each tree they have left over by Christmas morning.

There's no sadder sight than a lot full of unsold Christmas trees the day after Christmas -- trees whose lives were cut short unnecessarily.

5. Make it illegal to use Christmas music or Santa Claus in any television commercial or newspaper advertisement. Santa Claus was never meant to be a salesman; it lessens his believability for kids.

6. The recipients of gifts should give those gifts a chance before rushing the day after Christmas to return them to the store from which they were bought. Not liking a gift is not sufficient reason to return it; that's between the giver and the receiver.

If it doesn't fit or you already have one, those are legitimate grounds for returning a gift.

7. It would be the law that every Christmas card mailed out would have both the first and last name of the sender. It never seems to occur to people that any one of us might know two or more people named Edith, George, or Linda. There's nothing more frustrating than getting a Christmas card and not knowing who it's from.

8. Every major religion in America should find a way to make Christmas its own. There's no other time of year when so many people feel so good and so friendly toward so many other people. The spirit of Christmas exceeds the narrow beliefs of any one religion.

(This classic Rooney column was originally published Dec. 22, 1986.)

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