(Pictured: Destiny’s Child. L to R: Kelly Rowland, Beyoncé Knowles, and Michelle Williams, on stage in 2000.)
December 25, 2000, was a Monday. There’s subzero cold across much of the American Midwest today. Moline, Illinois, sets a record with a low of 18 below. In Madison, Wisconsin, it was 21 below. A partial eclipse of the sun is visible across much of North America, reaching its maximum just past noon Eastern time. Up to 60 percent of the sun is covered in the northeastern U.S., but only about 20 percent in the far southwest. Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem are either scaled down or canceled in the wake of renewed fighting between Israelis and Palestinians; outgoing president Bill Clinton has presented both sides a new plan to stop the violence. Meanwhile, the family Christmas celebration of president-elect George W. Bush is interrupted when 19-year-old Jenna Bush is hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy. Today’s newspapers contain stories about the new president’s cabinet choices. Liberal groups oppose the nomination of John Ashcroft as attorney general given his conservative record on civil rights and abortion. Also in the papers today is the obituary of Billy Barty, who appeared in dozens of TV shows from the 50s to the 90s. The 3-foot-9-inch actor died on Saturday at age 76.
The top movie at the box office this past weekend was Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks, which took in a record $30 million. Other popular movies include What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt; The Family Man, starring Nicolas Cage; and Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The top-rated TV show of the night is ABC’s Monday Night Football, where the Tennessee Titans blow out the Dallas Cowboys 31-0. Tonight on CBS: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Everybody Loves Raymond, Becker, and Family Law, which stars Kathleen Quinlan, Dixie Carter, and Tony Danza. NBC presents its annual broadcast of It’s a Wonderful Life. Fox airs Boston Legal and a Christmas episode of Ally McBeal.
The NBA’s made-for-TV Christmas doubleheader features the Indiana Pacers beating the Orlando Magic 103-93 despite Tracy McGrady’s 43 points for Orlando. In a battle of Western Conference contenders, the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 109-104. Rasheed Wallace of the Trail Blazers leads all scorers with 33; Shaquille O’Neal of the Lakers scores 32. In college football, Boston College beats Arizona State 31-17 at the Aloha Bowl in Honolulu. The Titans/Cowboys game today was the last of the NFL regular season. The playoffs begin this coming Saturday. The Titans are the #1 seed in the AFC; in the NFC, the New York Giants are #1. Both teams will have the coming weekend off. The wild-card weekend schedule has St. Louis at New Orleans and Indianapolis at Miami on Saturday; on Sunday, Tampa Bay plays at Philadelphia and Denver visits Baltimore.
On the Billboard Hot 100, “Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child is #1 for a sixth straight week. “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy moves up to #2. “Case of the Ex” by Mya is #3. “With Arms Wide Open” by Creed is at #4; it’s also the oldest record on the chart, in its 38th week. There’s not much chart action, apart from “Liquid Dreams” by O-Town, which makes its Hot 100 debut at #21, and Madonna’s “Don’t Tell Me,” which zooms from #54 to #35. On the Billboard 200 album chart, 1 by the Beatles is back in the top spot. It was knocked from the #1 spot two weeks ago by the Backstreet Boys’ Black and Blue, which is now #2. The compilation Now That’s What I Call Music 5 is #3, Human Clay by Creed is #4, and Oops! I Did It Again by Britney Spears is #5.
Perspective From the Present: I have had better Christmases than the one in 2000. We visited the family in Michigan, Ann’s brother, his wife, and our three nephews, then aged 7, 4, and seven months. My journal records that we drove through two different snowstorms to get there on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day was chaotic with general family buzz and I craved quiet that I could not find. On the 26th, I awoke with the flu, which required Ann to do the driving on the way home while I moldered in the passenger seat. On Wednesday the 27th, I was back in my corporate cubicle, although as I wrote in my journal on that day, with the bosses out of town for the holidays, “there’s little motivation for me to do much of anything. If I liked this job and thought it mattered, I might have more remorse about malingering—but as it is, I don’t.” I’d had the job for nine months; I would somehow stick it out for nearly three more years.