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Imagining the Holidays

Prior to all that supernatural humbuggery, Ebenezer Scrooge was a contented, prosperous businessman. He paid his taxes and left everyone alone. In addition to his other qualities, he was prescient about energy conservation, even as far back as the 1830s. Did he let Bob Cratchit -- a man of unproven accounting competence, insofar as we know from the story -- burn ton after ton of coal and contribute to global warming? Talk about an inconvenient truth! In addition, Scrooge's views on how to deal with the poor and the "surplus population" were eminently utilitarian and sensible. Did Tiny Tim go on to become a useful member of society? Did he contribute in any meaningful way? Dickens is rather silent on that point.

Finally, Ebenezer Scrooge -- God bless him -- courageously and solitarily refused to go along with the crass commercialization of Christmas. What a shame that Dickens, an otherwise reliable moralist, should have given into such treacle and populist sentiment and turned this ethical exemplar -- this quiet giant of Stoicism -- into a mere warm and fuzzy old cuddlebear.

-- Christopher Buckley, author of "Thank You for Smoking"

Sub-Mariner, King of Atlantis | a Marvel Comics character

My first choice was Sinbad the Sailor because he's the original mack daddy explorer who scooped princesses worldwide and fought all the ill Harryhausen monsters, so you know he would have been cool to have been for Christmas, but with the war on terror going on . . . let's be real: Who the heck wants to get on a plane to Santo Domingo and end up in Syria with a bag over their head, being told waterboarding ain't torture?

So I'm thinking I'd like to be Prince Namor of Atlantis -- aka the Sub-Mariner. Not only is Namor good-looking and in incredible shape (check the abs), he's also an irascible, mixed-breed playboy, half-man, half-Atlantean (how very Caribbean of him). The fact that he can outswim a speedboat and outfly a jet and is as strong as one thousand men don't hurt either.

Why the Sub-Mariner? Well, like any good Island boy, I've always wanted to see the sea, but the way James Cameron has seen it: deep and strange. And a week as the Sub-Mariner would give me just that opportunity. The sea, as we all know or don't want to know, is dying. If you want to see it while it's still got legs (or life), see it now. I'd dive straight into the Puerto Rico trench, hang with the lantern fish, arm-wrestle giant squids and maybe track down the ruins of Atlantis.

Yes, the Sub-Mariner.

But only for the holiday. Seven days as the Sub-Mariner: a miracle. A lifetime as the Sub-Mariner, watching the seas die: a heartbreak.

And I, like most people, like my holidays light.

-- Junot Diaz, author of "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao"

Charles Ryder | in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited

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