Pity the poor postman. Already the Christmas cards are pouring in, along with the “gimme” pleas from multiple charitable organizations hoping to capitalize on the year’s soft-hearted season.
The Christmas card volume, however, seems to have decreased in recent years, perhaps due to increased email greetings.
Christmas newsletters also seem to be on the decrease. Unlike some people, I don’t deplore the newsletters, although some do read like brag letters, such as:
“Our John has been named third vice president at Skunk and Skunk, Inc. Louise is doing the Continent and is spending the holidays in Zurich. The twins have turned 16 and received matching BMWs on their birthdays. Sissy has been elected ‘Sweetheart of Sweetbriar.’”
We seldom if ever get a Christmas newsletter reading:
“We have much to be thankful for this Christmas. The Parole Commission is letting Henry out in time for the holidays. The bank is giving us a 7 percent loan to take care of Tommy’s braces. Susy is not pregnant after all, and has a solid C average at Vassar. The lawyer was able to get Grandma’s 75-in-a-55 zone speeding ticket reduced to 69, so she won’t lose her license again.”
But aren’t these kinds of Christmas cards better than those with printed but unsigned names of the senders?
Governor Pat McCrory has made MAD Magazine’s list of the 20 dumbest people in America because of his HB2 involvement.
Well, we take whatever honors come our way in this world. However, the Governor may feel much like the man described by Abraham Lincoln. The fellow, being ridden out of town on a rail, announced as he went, “Were it not for the honor, I’d just as soon walk.”
One day, before the Supreme Court got so particular about church/school relationships, a teacher asked her students to bring to class something related to their faith and explain it to their classmates.
The first child said, “I am Muslim and this is my prayer rug.” The second said, “I am Jewish and this is my Star of David.” The third youngster explained, “I am Catholic and this is my rosary.” The fourth student said, “I am Southern Baptist and this is my casserole dish.”
To me, and perhaps to some of you, my most memorable Christmases are those from childhood. When our “cash crop” tobacco brought only nine cents a pound, the stockings hung by the chimney with care often contained an orange, an apple, a couple of sticks of peppermint candy, and a few Brazil nuts or pecans.
Santa usually ran out of toys before he reached the farm at the end of the winding rural road. Even so, the excitement and magic of Christmas always prevailed.
It usually snowed. The snow-covered lawn and nearby fields shimmered in the darkness. The barn and other outbuildings resembled ghost-like hulks in the night.
We slept under heavy quilts with irons heated by the fireplace tucked in at our feet. As I lay next to my sleeping brother, listening to his even breathing, I gazed out the window into the night.
The almost eerie-silence of the world outside was broken only by the distant sound of a dog barking from the adjacent farm. The stars sparkled like diamonds displayed on a giant curtain of velvet. I spotted what I thought was the star in the east that led the three wise men to Bethlehem.
While recently describing those Christmas Eves of long ago to a friend over coffee, I mused wistfully, “I wonder why the stars always seemed so much brighter on Christmas Eve back then.”
“Because you were young and could see better,” he replied realistically.
In retrospect, he’s probably right. Back then, I was caught up in the magic of childhood and Christmastime, a rare and intoxicating combination.
It must have been memories of such a combination that inspired poet Elizabeth Akers Allen to write these poignant lines:
Backward, turn backward, O Time
in your flight.
Make me a child again,
just for tonight.