Sunday, December 5, 2010


At Christmastime, when I was young, we sang carols and church songs like "Silent Night," also the lively, jolly "Jingle Bells." Through the years these were joined by some good new numbers like "I'm Dreaming Of a White Christmas" and "Blue Christmas." Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and "The Night Before Christmas" were our standard stories. Later new song-stories came along, including "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Frosty the Snowman," "Angie the Christmas Tree Angel" and "Little Drummer Boy."

I still enjoy the beautiful Christmas songs and music that saturate the airwaves and our lives during the holiday season. for two weeks--or three--at the most. Then I decide that cold, dark, snowy January maybe won't be so dreary after all.
Shopping is not all bad. I love to watch the drivers in the mall lots jockeying for parking slots near the main mall entrance. I am amazed at their skill and guile--at their brass and attempts at downright intimidation.

Later, inside the store, they can be seen using much the same strategies and evasive moves while operating shopping carts--cutting each other off at the corners, and effectively blocking off a small display of a scarce item while deciding whether or not to make a purchase.

I spend a fair amount of time looking at the animated decorations. The sleeping, breathing, snoring Santas. And the tiny mechanical animals and elves that festoon artificial trees, barking, yelping, and belching out tunes like "Jingle Bells" and "What Child Is This?"

One thing I miss from the Christmas past is the whisper of currency that has in so many cases been replaced by the sounds of the verification of "plastic pay." Accompanied by the occasional sad, silent shriek of a credit card that is being stretched far beyond common-sense limits.

I am amazed at recent increased participation in and celebration of the Great Day. At times, entire city blocks of homes and lawns are completely decorated with lights--flickering and flashing all over the place. Some neighborhoods remind one, incandescently, of the Las Vegas Strip.

But I often wonder whether any of the warm illumination of these displays ever finds its way into human hearts. What a wonderful world we would have if each of the tiny bulbs actually represented a true expression of love or a real act of kindness.
Christmas is a wonderful time. A beautiful tradition to remember and to enjoy, and to pass on to our children.

I think the owner of a small shop, without giving it a lot of thought, said it best. When asked about the degree of success of his business, he quickly replied, "Thank God for Christmas!"


Scrawny Christmas tree, discarded,
You've seen better times, I know,
As your yellowed needles fall to
Make a carpet on the snow.

For two weeks you lit your corner,
Adding to the season's cheer,
Then your ornaments were taken,
Boxed up for another year.

Out in the back yard they threw you,
In a corner, in the snow,
But you still serve a good purpose,
Something most folks could not know.

You've made yours a life of sharing,
Would have it no other way,
And despite sad circumstances,
You are still giving today.

A small bird, your branches shelter,
With a painful, injured wing;
If I help you out, and feed it,
It will live to fly and sing.

Christmas brings a bounteous harvest,
Precious joys that we can reap;
First, the warmth that comes with giving,
Then, the memories that we keep

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