For Post-Christmas: Unwrap a Bit of Silence

The silence of which we sing so wistfully at Midnight Mass, is at an all-time premium at Christmas; it is so difficult to find a silent night, let alone sit within one and become immersed in it, that the possibility of a seasonal soothing of the heart—a quieting of the grief of the world—seems the stuff of illusion and myth.Christmas has, in too many ways, become the equivalent of an overdone theme-park vacation. By its end, one is knock-kneed with exhaustion and desperately in need of a gen … [Read more...]

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“I Hate Youse All!” Uncle Charlie, Christmas & Authentic Love

Christmas day never comes without my remembrance of "Uncle Charlie", a family friend who once appeared on our doorstep, decked out in all of Santa's raiment and tripping in his boots only slightly. He had apparently been Santa for a party at the local soup kitchen (or the local bar; this was never clear to me) and -- just a trifle in his cups -- had decided during his walk home that he would stop at the houses of his friends and give all the kids "a treat." And if the friends wanted to toast the … [Read more...]

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Duke Ellington Sent Christmas Cards All Year Long

The story goes that if the legendary composer and orchestrator Duke Ellington had met you, and gotten his hands on your mailing address, you’d have gotten a Christmas card from him. It may not come at Christmas, but at some point during the year, his personally written and signed greetings would grace your mailbox.“Duke Ellington and I exchanged Christmas greetings each year,” wrote Joe Delaney of the Las Vegas Sun. “Mine were sent in mid-December. Duke sent his when the spirit moved him.” … [Read more...]

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Suggestions for Stocking Stuffers and Kid’s Books

Earlier, I posted some Christmas gift suggestions for under $50.00, but I totally forgot to recommend some kids books and also stocking stuffers, and this year we're going heavy on stocking stuffers, ourselves, so, here we go!The first time someone gave me a giant natural sponge for a Secret Santa, I thought it was strange, but after I used it I understood. SO MUCH BETTER than a loofah, in every way. I love my sponge. This giant sponge, combined with something like these outstanding soaps? … [Read more...]

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Duke Ellington Understood Incarnation, Lived Christmas

There is a collection of Christmas-Themed articles over at National Review, and among them you'll find my piece which started out as a rant against cruise-pictures-as-Christmas-cards and ended up being about Duke Ellington and the Great Christmas Secret:“Duke Ellington and I exchanged Christmas greetings each year,” wrote Joe Delaney of the Las Vegas Sun., “Mine were sent in mid-December. Duke sent his when the spirit moved him.”A reformed Ebenezer Scrooge may have pledged to “honor Chri … [Read more...]

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2013 Christmas Stamps Speak to Common Humanity

Apparently while I was on vacation, I missed a wee brouhaha about a US Postal Service ad that managed to promote "Holiday" stamps without including the Christmas-themed ones, and nary a Christian image in sight.Well, if you haven't seen them, yet, here they are:I love this year's Madonna selection, "Virgin and Child" by Jan Gossaert -- I like how Mary presents her son and Lord to with a casual open gesture, while also resting her head on her hand as we mothers do, partly in wonder … [Read more...]

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“LOOK WHAT YOU DID!” Toys, Toys, Toys!

Isn't it nice to hear those words and know that what you did was something good, and not something bad?I can't wait to stop posting and to shut down for Christmas, but I can't do that without telling you folks what you have done!That pic (which I have cribbed from the Facebook timeline of the wonderful Leslie Cascone Rohrbacker with her permission) is just a portion of toy deliveries that made it to Straight and Narrow of Paterson, New Jersey in time for Christmas.You people are … [Read more...]

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A Brother’s Lesson on Christmas

This morning, on Facebook I noticed that The Christopher's Tony Rossi had posted something from their "Three Minutes A Day feature -- quick inspirational reads that can put a day into perspective. You can get the Three Minutes a Day Book, too and Tony quoted for the latest volume (#47) which is for 2012.As it turns out, that entry uses something from a piece I wrote a long time ago. It was from an open letter, written to Maureen Dowd back when I wasted time and energy trying to cheer her … [Read more...]

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Hating on Black Friday and “The Season”

I confess, I despise "Black Friday." I hate the way consumers are urged to haul their Thanksgiving-exhausted selves out to stores -- away from family members who have often traveled some distance to come together -- so they can surrender their human dignity or assault the dignity of others in order to snag a ten-dollar sweater and a waffle-maker for $9.99.And I hate the way consumers go along with it.I hate the way the mad buying and bad behavior is attached to Christmas -- the coming … [Read more...]

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Obama’s Christmas Tree Tax – UPDATES

When I saw the headline, I assumed it was from the Onion News Network.Obama Couldn't Wait; His New Christmas Tree Tax: President Obama’s Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees—the Christmas Tree Tax—to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees . . . the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promoti … [Read more...]

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