Tuesday, December 13, 2011

34 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 1983

There are two major differences in the tone of this poem compared to the previous five. The first is that it's highly topical, a real "time capsule" of the year (as you will see shortly.) The second is that there isn't a trace of moodiness as I am less than a year away from being married and marking my final holiday season under the old family roof. For someone who wondered aloud if that was ever going to happen, it marks a huge shift in the way that I was viewing the world.

On the 1983 hit parade, the PC revolution is now on the march. The previous year, Time magazine had named the PC as "Man of the Year" (which annoyed Steve Jobs to no end as he thought HE was going to get that honor per his biography.) Verses one, two and six pay homage to the paradigm shift that was starting to take root.

The next verse gives a nod to an incredibly ugly toy that actually started riots; the Cabbage Patch Kids. Mind you, these were mostly the originals, all hand made with their little birth certificate and almost impossible to get. The news was filled with stories of what people were doing to find one of them. They were so popular that a store opened in Cleveland dedicated to selling nothing but these squashed-up little tykes. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabbage_Patch_Kids)

Verse four refers to something that America had not participated in since the end of Vietnam; a war in Grenada (albeit a very short one.) It was a shock to most but gained immediate popularity when everyone could see it as a "slam dunk," quick victory. The forces that landed in October were home by December. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Grenada)

The tone of this year's poem is upbeat and empowered, a hopeful affirmation of the human spirit in an age where many wondered if we would lose something precious in the technological leap forward.

Christmas 1983
Richard Perrotti

The system was up; the program was “go,”
An analyst sat there and smiled.
He’d soon have the answer, soon know the truth
In all just a very short while

But when the readout came back, he slumped in his chair,
His marvelous query now moot.
THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS? His question asked;

The toy store owner was tired, but glad
“Those Cabbage dolls sure brought in the green.”
His profits had boomed, he sat there and thought
What a perfect Christmas it’d been.

When he stepped off the plane, the Marine’s mom prayed,
“Thank you Lord for being so kind.”
As he ran to embrace her, her eyes told the world,
“The perfect Christmas is mine!”

It was just like old times ‘round the table,
With his whole family happy and near.
The reunion complete, he proposed a glad toast.
“To our perfect Christmas this year…”

As the Info age whizzes around us,
And binary bits flash by,
Statisticians will quiz us and group us,
And analysts will log and apply.

But our feelings will keep us together,
As unique and as fluid as rhyme.
When we come from every direction
And celebrate Christmastime.


December 1983 happenings:
1st - Rita Lavelle, former head of EPA, convicted of perjury
3rd - "Marilyn: An American Fable" closes at Minskoff NYC after 16 perfs
3rd - 49th Heisman Trophy Award: Mike Rozier, Nebraska (RB)
3rd - France performs nuclear test at Muruora Island
4th - "Amen Corner" closes at Nederlander Theater NYC after 83 performances
4th - "Baby" opens at Barrymore Theater NYC for 241 performances
4th - David Shire & R Maltby Jr's musical "Baby," premieres in NYC
4th - NJ Devils 1st shut-out, beating Minnesota Detroit Red Wings 6-0
4th - US jet fighters strike Syrian anti-aircraft positions in Lebanon
5th - 12 killed by a car bomb shattering 9-story building in west Beirut
5th - LA Dodger pitcher Steve Howe is suspended for 1 year for cocaine use
5th - ICIMOD established and inaugurated with its headquarters in Kathmandu, Nepal, and legitimised through an Act of Parliament in Nepal in the same year.
6th - A bomb planted on a bus in Jerusalem explodes, kills 6 Israelis
7th - 2 jets collided at Madrid Airport killing 93
7th - France performs nuclear test at Muruora Island
8th - 9th Space Shuttle Mission-Columbia 6-lands at Edwards AFB
8th - Richard Baker, Zen teacher, steps down from abbotship of SF Zen Center
9th - Att Gen Edwin Meese says people go to soup kitchens "...because food is free & that's easier than paying for it"
9th - US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
10th - 58th Australian Womens Tennis: M Navratilova beats K Jordan (62 76)
10th - Danuta Walesa, wife of Lech Walesa, accepts his Nobel Peace Prize
10th - Last NFL game at Shea Stadium; Steelers beat NY Jets 34-7
10th - Raul Alfonsin inaugurated as Argentina's 1st civilian president
11th - 1st visit to Lutheran church by a pope (John Paul II in Rome)
11th - 72nd Australian Mens Tennis: Mats Wilander beats Ivan Lendl (61 64 64)
11th - Jan Stephens/Fred Couples wins LPGA J C Penney Golf Classic
12th - A truck bomb explodes at US Embassy in Kuwait
13th - 9,655 see highest-scoring NBA game: Detroit 186, Denver 184 (3 OT)
13th - British Airways incorporates
13th - Islander's Butch Goring scorings 4 goals against Oilers
13th - KYA-AM in San Francisco CA changes call letters to KOIT
13th - Martha Layne Collins inaugurated as Kentucky's 1st female governor
14th - "Peg" opens at Lunt-Fontanne Theater NYC for 5 performances
15th - 3 KC Royals suspended due to cocaine usage
15th - Columbia flies to Kennedy Space Center via El Paso, Kelly AFB
15th - Last 80 US combat soldiers in Grenada withdrew
15th - Wendy Wasserstein's "Isn't It Romantic," premieres in NYC
16th - Spokesperson for The Who announces the group is disbanding
16th - Yogi Berra named Yankee manager for 2nd time
16th - Riverside, Cal judge denies cerebral palsy victim Elizabeth Bouviato request to starve herself to death in a county hospital
17th - "Peg" closes at Lunt-Fontanne Theater NYC after 5 performances
17th - Bomb attack on Harrod's war house in London, 5 killed, 94 injured
17th - Disco in Madrid catches fire; 83 die
17th - The IRA bombs Harrods Department Store in London, killing six people.
18th - NBA San Diego Clippers ends 29 game road losing streak
19th - The original FIFA World Cup trophy, the Jules Rimet Trophy, is stolen from the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation in Rio de Janeiro.
20th - El Salvador adopts constitution
20th - Guy Lafleur, Montreal, became 10th NHLer to score 500 goals
20th - NY Islanders score their most goals (11) vs Pitts Penguins
20th - PLO chairman Yasser Arafat & 4,000 loyalists evacuate Lebanon
21st - Musical "Tap Dance Kid" opens at Broadhurst Theater NYC for 669 performances
21st - Loretta Swit weds Dennis Holahan
21st - NBA Indiana Pacers end a 28 game road losing streak
21st - NCAA rules rescinded last 2-minute men's basketball free throw rule
22nd - Egyptian president Mubarak meets with PLO leader Yasser Arafat
22nd - Islanders score 3 shorthanded goals against Caps
23rd - Journal Science publishes 1st report on nuclear winter
25th - 1st live telecast of Christmas Parade
26th - Test Cricket debut of Gregory Richard John Matthews, v Pakistan MCG
26th - USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
27th - Pope John Paul II pardons man who shot him (Mehmet Ali Agca)
27th - Propane gas fire devastated 16 blocks of Buffalo
28th - 72nd Davis Cup: Australia beats Sweden in Melbourne (3-2)
28th - Gavaskar achieves his 30th century, beating Bradman's 29
28th - US say they will leave UNESCO on Dec 31, 1984
28th - Warren Cromartie signs 3 year $2.5M contract with Yomiuri Giants
29th - Gavaskar makes the highest Test Cricket score by an Indian, 236* v WI
29th - Graeme Yallop completes 268 v Pakistan at cricket MCG
29th - US announced withdrawal from UNESCO
31st - Brunei gains complete independence from Britain
31st - Jose Happart installed as mayor of Voeren Belgium
31st - Nigeria's National Assembly dissolves after military coup

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