EVERYBODY has his own idea of what hell is.

Like Dante, I think there are descending stages of the underworld with the most despicable of souls being sent deep down to New Jersey for all eternity.

But right above that, reserved for those who are really bad but not incorrigible, is the level where Satan makes everyone sit around and watch Hallmark Christmas movies until hell freezes over.

I know there are people out there who love these movies, but they make me want to scream. The acting is terrible, the sweet ending is always predictable and the actors smile from the opening scene until the curtain falls.

Maybe that’s why I don’t like Hallmark Christmas movies—all the smiling. I never trust anyone who smiles all the time. Over the years I have found that behind a big smile there is usually a hidden knife ready to stab me in the back. Yes, I’m cynical.

The Hallmark Channel must have a factory where they turn out toothy smiles, shallow plots and love everlasting on a daily basis. That just isn’t for me. Give me John Wayne with a wreath around his horse’s neck anytime. That’s a Christmas movie.

But it is that time of year, and the Hallmark Christmas movies seem to be running nonstop. But then, so are those TV ads for novelty Christmas gifts. So far I’ve seen everything hawked short of the Popeil Pocket Fisherman.

Worse yet, these “gifts for the person who has everything” are now flooding social media. Thirty seconds after I finished my Thanksgiving turkey (actually, I ate country ham, but the rule is that you have to say Thanksgiving “turkey”), my Facebook news feed was filled with holiday gift ideas.

One or two, like that gizmo that helps you unscrew unscrewable can tops, don’t look too bad. Some of these gadgets are really imaginative. Maybe Hallmark should hire the folks that make imaginative gadgets to write the scripts for their Christmas movies. They might come up with better plots.

Have you heard that Christmas trees are going to be more expensive this year? Climate change is the reason, of course. It is the reason for everything (including the Washington Redskins’ miserable season). California fires, North Carolina droughts and Mississippi River floods have all been linked to the shortage, or so the story goes.

There are fewer in my neighborhood because several growers have discovered that you can’t make any money growing Christmas trees. Seven years is a long time to work to sell a $25 tree.

Some reports indicate that consumers may be paying as high as $75 for a freshly cut tree this holiday season. To that I say, “Bah! Humbug!” There are plenty of smelly old cedar trees growing along every back road and their owners would probably pay you to cut them.

You’ll never become a millionaire if you go around paying $75 for a Christmas tree that you’ll just end up throwing in the trash. Spend that money on a Popeil Pocket Fisherman you can use to catch a cheap dinner.

Pound Puppies are back this year. Yes, as the father of two girls, I found out all about Pound Puppies when they first became popular in the late 1980s, I think it was.

Now, with three small granddaughters and another on the way, I am getting reacquainted with these little critters, which caused me untold anguish 30 years ago when they didn’t make enough Pound Puppies for every child that asked for one.

Remember going from store to store to find that special toy that every child wanted? Remember standing in line when a new shipment of Pound Puppies or some other special toy was supposedly arriving? Lord deliver me!

The economy must be good because, according to reports, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday were all huge successes. Giving Tuesday? They should have held that the day before Thanksgiving because after all that shopping, nobody had anything left to give.

Me? I just want to get the holidays over with. I’ve never been a Christmas person. Charles Dickens had a vision from the distant future and patterned Scrooge after me. I love “Bah!” and I love “Humbug!” Need I say more?

Enough of this. Let me get back to my movie. No, it is not a Hallmark Christmas movie. In the flick I’m watching, John Wayne is trying to save the town from a gang of outlaws bent on stealing all the mistletoe, drinking the saloon dry of eggnog and kicking around the Pound Puppies.

Great plot!

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Donnie Johnston:


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