John Phipps: A Few of My Favorite Things

09:35AM Dec 09, 2019
John Phipps
What do you get when you cross the intellect of an engineer, the heart of a farmer and the charm of a TV commentator? The ever-witty John Phipps.
( Lindsey Benne )

I’m not sure when it happened, but the song “My Favorite Things” has wormed its way into traditional Christmas music. Personally, I think the standards were degraded when “Santa Baby” was added by Philistines who didn’t appreciate the nuances and intricacies of classics such as “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.”

At any rate, it now is wedged into the background music of the holiday season. This 1959 ditty became semi-famous in the hit musical “The Sound of Music” starring Julie Andrews. I endured this family entertainment, but it — and that song — began to truly bug me.

At some point, Maria Poppins sings the aforementioned song to soothe children afraid of a thunderstorm, despite their Alpine farmer neighbors probably needing the rain. To my astonishment, this can work. Not the syrupy singing, of course, but meditating on or handling our favorite things can relieve our troubled spirits. Examples include:

  • My favorite hammer. I have had one claw hammer for at least 40 years. Twenty-six ounces of precision toolmaking that has built a home, remodeled a barn, assembled dozens of woodworking projects and permanently altered my left thumb. While air nailers, and soon battery-powered substitutes, have decreased its playing time, the feel of its worn grip in my hand makes the whole world look like a nail.
  • My favorite field. We designate fields by letters, so this tract is GE (Granny’s East 40). As a child tagging along with Dad, I have vivid memories of each time we'd work this field. To remove tree stumps, Dad used dynamite. Seriously. I would watch him pack it under the roots and then laugh as we raced back to the GMC two-ton before the detonation. Only later as a parent did I realize my parents were obviously trying to kill me.
  • My favorite embarrassment. McDonald’s Mocha Frappe: A totally sissified beverage that was born during a McD’s marketing brainstorming session:

Senior vice president: We need to get people to drink shakes for breakfast.
Passing janitor: Add a quart of caffeine.
Senior vice president: Brilliant!
I am ashamed of my addiction to this nutrition nightmare but will not deny they are the high point of many days.

These favorites don’t lend themselves to any lyrical structure, like roses and kittens, etc. Merry Christmas anyway. It too can be a favorite thing.

To read more of John’s thoughts on “The Sound of Music” as well as two more favorite things, visit