Wednesday, December 21, 2011

34 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 1991

This year's version is a throwback in several ways. First of all, look at the original poem itself; typewritten on plain white paper, a relic in the rapidly evolving PC age. If I remember correctly, we had sold the Mac and were in between computers. This would explain the format of the poem. Also of tech note, a "little company" called AOL was in it's volcanic growth phase during this and the next several years. (Remember the endless CD's in the mail trying to get you into the club?) I do remember in the early days they actually signed off at 1 a.m.. Welcome to the gated internet, kids!

As for the poem itself, guess what America and much of the world was mired in? If you guessed "recession," give yourself a prize. ( It was bad and the Gulf War (yes, the early 90's had one of those too) added to it as the retreating Iraqi army left Kuwait's oil field in flames. Worldwide oil prices skyrocketed and already faltering economies tanked even further.

The "thousand points of light" reference is from George H.W. Bush's inaugural address. It became a lightning rod for criticism and the social safety net continued to get slashed. Amazing how things that "go 'round, come 'round," isn't it? (

The hostage event that I reference happened just before I wrote the poem. On December 4, 1991, journalist Terry Anderson was freed in Lebanon by the Hezbollah terrorist organization after 2,454 days in captivity, six and one-half years. It needed to be captured in verse. (

There was a tone of "hopeful despair" in America that Christmas as shoppers were being exhorted to rally to retail and "spend, spend, spend" to revive the economy. That was really the overriding arch of this time. I tried to lampoon it a bit and remind those reading what the true currency of Christmas truly was.

Again, sounds familiar, wouldn't you say?

Christmas 1991
Richard Perrotti

“Bye-bye,” said the child to Santa
as she slid off his fuzzy red lap.
Her wishes and dreams had been noted
And most, in fact, already wrapped.

“Please buy!” was the cry of the merchants
as their registers lacked the old jingle.
If things didn’t improve they would have to
Stop payment on the check to “K. Kringle.”

“By and by,” was the answer the President gave
when asked if things would get better.
“But you’re all points of light on these holiday nights,
so let’s all give the homeless a sweater.”

“Good bye, you are free,” said the terrorist,
as the hostage was released that same night.
“Tell the world of Allah’s Christmas present
and that in His great name, we are right!”

We all buy and sell every Christmas
Swapping sweat and time and deeds.
Planting memories that last but a lifetime,
Hoping one will bring forth a good seed.

Yes, this season is one huge transaction
But it’s not just money that gets rearranged.
For love’s the true currency of Christmas
And the best part is keeping the change.

December 1991 (note the final entry; Hell freezes over from my perspective)

1st - "Moscow Circus Cirk Valentin" closes at Gershwin NYC after 32 perfs
1st - "Once on this Island" closes at Booth Theater NYC after 469 perfs
1st - 80th Davis Cup: France beats USA in Lyon (3-1)
1st - AIDS awareness day
1st - Colorado party wins Paraguay parliamentary election
1st - Nursultan Nazarbayev sworn in as president of Kazakhstan
1st - US 75th manned space mission "STS 44" Atlantis 10 lands
1st - Ukrainian people vote for independence
2nd - Bobby Bonilla signs record $29 million-5 year pact with NY Mets
2nd - Muslim Shites release American held in Lebanon hostage Joseph Cicippio
3rd - Hulk Hogan defeats Undertaker to become 4th time WWF champion
3rd - Muslim Shites release US hostage Alan Steen
3rd - White House Chief of Staff John Sununu resigns
4th - Judds final concert (Nashville)
4th - Muslim Shites release last US hostage Terry Anderson (held 6½ years)
4th - Pan American World Airways ceased operations
4th - Patricia Bowman testifies that William Kennedy Smith raped her
5th - "Catskills on Broadway" opens at Lunt-Fontanne NYC for 452 perfs
5th - Charles Keating Jr (Lincoln Savings & Loan fraud), found guilty
5th - NY Daily News files for protection under chapter 11
6th - "Les Miserables" opens at Circustheater, Scheveningen
6th - "Star Trek VI-Undiscovered Country" premieres
7th - A J Kitt, US, wins World Skiing Cup
8th - "Homecoming" closes at Criterion Theater NYC after 49 performances
8th - "Nick & Nora" opens at Marquis Theater NYC for 9 performances
8th - Kris Tschetter/Billy Andrade wins LPGA J C Penney Golf Classic
8th - Russia, Belorussia & Ukraine form Commonwealth of Ind States
8th - The Romanian Constitution is adopted in a referendum.
9th - 2nd Billboard Music Awards
10th - "Crucible" opens at Belasco Theater NYC for 32 performances
10th - IM Pei receives $5 million for design of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
10th - Jackie Martling walks off of Howard Stern show for 1 day
10th - Howard Spira sentenced to 2½ years in prison for trying to extort money from Yankees owner George Steinbrenner
11th - William Kennedy Smith found not guilty of rape
12th - Actor Richard Gere marries super model Cindy Crawford
12th - Maastricht Treaty signed to create a European Community
12th - NJ Nets set NBA record of 22 blocks beating Nuggets 121-81
12th - Orion Pictures filed Chapter 11 for bankruptcy protection
12th - Tampa Bay Bucaneer Dexter Manley, retires after failing drug test
13th - Both Koreas sign an accord calling for reconcilliation
13th - NY assembly speaker Mel Miller is convicted of federal mail fraud
13th - Ricky Pierce (Seattle) ends NBA free throw streak of 75 games
14th - 57th Heisman Trophy Award: Desmond Howard, Michigan (WR)
14th - Ferry boat Salem Express sinks in Red Sea, 476 killed
15th - "Nick & Nora" closes at Marquis Theater NYC after 9 performances
15th - Deb Richard wins JBP Cup LPGA Match Play Golf Championship
16th - Fla Marlins sign their 1st player, 16 year old pitcher Clemente Nunez
16th - UN reverses ruling that Zionism is racism by 111-25 (13 abstain) vote
16th - Independence of The Republic of Kazakhstan.
17th - Cleveland Cavaliers beat Miami Heat 148-80, by record 68 pts
17th - NBA's most lopsided game Cleveland beats Miami 148-80
17th - Patrick Manning becomes premier of Trinidad & Tobago
17th - Soap opera "One Life To Live" airs its 6,000th episode
18th - DeForest Kelly (Dr McCoy on Star Trek) gets a star in Hollywood
18th - General Motors announces closing of 21 plants
19th - "Christmas Carol" opens at Eugene O'Neill Theater NYC for 14 perfs
19th - 6,000th episode of One Life To Live
19th - Boris Yeltsin takes control of Kremlin
19th - NY Yankee pitcher Steve Howe arrested for cocaine possession
20th - NHL grants permanent membership to Tampa Lightning & Ottawa Senators
20th - Paul Keating installed as premier of Australia
20th - A Missouri court sentences the Palestinian militant Zein Isa and his wife Maria to death for the honor killing of their daughter Palestina.
21st - 95 share in Madrid Spain $1.3 billion lottery (#47996)
21st - El Sayid Nosair acquitted of killing Meir Kahane
21st - US actress Jane Fonda marries CNN-director Ted Turner
21st - Soviet Union formally dissolves 11 of 12 republics sign treaty forming Commonwealth of Independent States
23rd - NY Daily News publisher Kevin Maxwell resigns
24th - Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as head of Soviet Union
25th - Last day of a washout Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Gujranwala
25th - Mikhail Gorbachev formally resigned as President of USSR
26th - Chuck Knolls retires as NFL coach after 23 years
26th - Jack Ruby's gun sells for $220,000 in auction
26th - Militant Sikhs kill 55 & wound 70 in India
26th - NY Islander Derek King ties NJ Devils 5-5 with ½ second left
27th - "Carol Burnett Show" last airs on CBS-TV
27th - Bengals hire Dave Shula as youngest NFL coach (32)
27th - Chuck Knox retires as Seattle Seahawk coach
28th - 8 are crushed to death at a RAP basketball game at City College, NYC
28th - Blockbuster Bowl 2: Alabama beats Colorado, 30-25
28th - Irene the Icon of Greek Orthodox church returns after being stolen
28th - Ninibeth Beatriz Leal Jiminez, 20, of Venez, crowned 41st Miss World
28th - Ted Turner is named Time Magazine Man of Year
29th - "Christmas Carol" closes at Eugene O'Neill Theater NYC after 14 perfs
29th - 12th United Negro College Fund
29th - Boeing 747-200F of China Airlines crash into mountain at Taipei
31st - CPN, Communist Party of Netherland, last day of existance
31st - Daniel R McCarthy elected NY Yankee managing general partner
31st - Dow Jones closes at record high 3168.83
31st - J Donald Crump resigned as CFL Commissioner
31st - USSR, last day of existence

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