enjoying Re-run's of Christmas' past

I just saw this posted as a Facebook status update, and it has boggled me as to how it should be considered or how it should be rewritten. If re-runs belong to Christmases of the past, and if the past owns Christmases then there is ownership present. What about Christmases' ?

I'm not focused on the fact it's a fragment of speech. Maybe that imbues some ambiguity upon it in my mind's eye and prevents me immediate resolution.

What's the most accurate, or else, your best interpretation of this fragment?

  • 2
    "Christmases past" parses differently from "Christmas' past" (or maybe "Christmas's past"); the former talks about the Christmas of last year, the year before that... you get the drift. The latter would be about the past underlying the holiday itself (e.g. it being a repurposed holiday). I believe the former was intended, even if he used the latter.
    – user730
    Dec 13 '10 at 0:36
  • 1
    "Re-run's" should be written as "reruns" or "re-runs".
    – Kosmonaut
    Dec 13 '10 at 0:49
  • "Christmases past" sounds awkward. I'd go for Dickens's usage any day, which I think has already become widely accepted: "Christmas past". This phrase captures all the nostalgia, memories, etc, of Christmases gone by.
    – Jimi Oke
    Dec 13 '10 at 2:00
  • @Jimi: A matter of ear, I'd say. :)
    – user730
    Dec 13 '10 at 2:42
  • @J.M.: Heartily concur! With hindsight, I should have added that "Christmases past" is not grammatically incorrect.
    – Jimi Oke
    Dec 13 '10 at 3:10

The "of" takes care of possession, if in fact possession is intended. The re-runs belong to Christmases past, or the writer is experiencing re-runs of the past Christmases themselves. Either way, I see the solution as simple plurals for both. The possession is in the eye of the beholder.

Enjoying re-runs of Christmases past

Or more poetically:

Enjoying re-runs of Christmas past

If TV is the subject, maybe you can convince your Facebook friend to decrease the ambiguity with something like:

Enjoying old Christmas re-runs

Most people on Facebook appreciate this kind of constructive criticism.

  • 1
    LOL on the last line. I think I will post a link to this conversation below their status update being questioned :)
    – John K
    Dec 13 '10 at 3:12
  • 5
    You can use this technique to prevent your list of Facebook friends from becoming unmanageably large.
    – Ken Redler
    Dec 13 '10 at 3:20

I would have to assume that it's intended to mean that the person is "enjoying reruns from past Christmases", e.g. watching old favorites on TV, or catching the 96th consecutive showing of "It's a Wonderful Life," or going over old family Christmas movies and photos, or some such.


Apostrophe abuse! Those re-runs do not possess anything, and neither does that Christmas! Your friend failed English.

"Enjoying re-runs of Christmases past."

  • I'd suggest failed English is a bit of a strong statement to make because it was a Facebook status update, maybe from a mobile device, and who knows if auto-correct was involved. However the fact that it's bad English is evident. Or maybe he failed the English language itself just this one time. :)
    – John K
    Mar 10 '11 at 20:55
  • 1
    LOL! I wouldn't, based on the evidence, but I did mean in this case. (Some of the internet's most hilarious moments have come, in my opinion, from auto-correct.)
    – goblinbox
    Mar 10 '11 at 20:59

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